Draft beer, to go!

By on February 26, 2014

Trisha Mason is ready to fill your next growler at the Sturgis Haus in downtown Lititz. Photo by Stephen Seeber

Trisha Mason is ready to fill your next growler at the Sturgis Haus in downtown Lititz. Photo by Stephen Seeber

Every time my friend stops over at my house for a gathering he is carrying a growler. The vessel is commonplace for most of us, but every once in a while I get the “what is that” look from someone.

So, what is a growler?

It’s a way to get fresh, draft beer to go.

The origin of the growler is a bit muddled. The story dates back to the 1800s when thirsty workers would enjoy a pail of beer during lunch, which was transported from the local brewery. The beer would slosh around and when the container was opened it would make a growling sound. Supposedly.

The modern growler – a simple brown jug with a twist-off cap – was implemented by Wyoming brewer Charlie Otto in his Otto Brothers Brewery (now known as Grand Teton Brewing). Now, growlers are everywhere, but are most popular in the U.S., Canada and Australia; and they come in a myriad of shapes and sizes.

The standard growler holds 32 ounces of malt refreshment. If unopened and refrigerated a growler can keep beer fresh for about a week. Once the top is opened you’ll want to finish off the beverage in a day (maybe two if you’re daring).

The rise of the beer culture has spawned new technology.

Brew fans like Philadelphia designer Steve Mosaic have created ways to keep beer fresh longer. His PA-produced GrowlerSaver (a carbonating cap) was funded with $35,000 through 479 Kickstarter donations. “The last pour is as good as the first,” says Mosaic.

Beer is best when it is fresh, and all the local breweries offer growler fills (or, if you don’t already have a growler they’ll sell you one). An empty, screw top growler with the Sturgis Haus logo runs $4.99; filling it with one of the nanobrewery’s six sudsy offerings costs $9.99. At JoBoy’s in Manheim (yes, they are still open and doing regular business until they make the move to downtown Lititz), most growler fills are $10 (special brews can cost a little more). For $5 you can take home a growler with a screen-printed JoBoy’s logo. St. Boniface also offers signature growlers. Empty, the vessels are $7 and it also costs $10 to fill them. The most popular fill at my house is the 8.5 percent ABV Libation Double India Pale Ale – definitely a bang for the buck. Fills of Appalachian Brewing Company’s flagship beers (Water Gap Wheat, Mountain Lager, Purist Pale Ale, “Jolly Scot” Scottish Style Ale) are also $10, but specialty brews like Chocolate Avenue Stout or the Outta Focus 2X IPA can run between $13 and $19. On Tuesdays, the brewery offers $2 off each fill. A standard screw top growler costs $4.50 and a designer growler with a ceramic lid costs $31.

So, the next time you are thinking about overpaying for a six-pack of domestic brew at a bar, remember the growler. When mine is empty and sanitized I just keep it in the car … just in case I pass a brewery.

Michael C. Upton invites your comments and suggestions at facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

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