Sounds like an angry animal, but no – a growler is a jug that can be refilled with alcohol, such as craft brew beer. Growlers have a long and varied history so let’s explore where the name came from and why the growler was invented.
In late 19th and early 20th century, growlers in all their various forms were used as the vessels for which to take home beer from the pub. Remember, this was well before bottled beer was introduced to the mass market. The bucket featured a lid that could be sealed once you got it filled from the local bar.
Why the name “growler” was attached to this type of pail is up for debate. Some say it came from the sound it made when CO2 escaped from the pail lid, while others insist it referred to the sound customers made to the bar keep who only partially filled up their pail by leaving a thick head. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “rush the growler,” this was in reference to bucket boys (often parents’ own children) who were told to carry the pails back home or to the workplace from the pub for their folks. The “nickel beer” was popular in the early 20th century, where you could fill a growler for between 5 and 15¢.
Once pasteurized bottling and automated plants came onto the scene, growlers fell out of fashion. This also had to do with local health departments cracking down on this unsafe transport of spirits. This was all a century ago, though, and the sanitizing practices are much more advanced these days, with no health concerns attached to growler fills. Instead, craft brewers began to face another problem: not all beer is produced in a quantity that makes bottling and distributing feasible for them to share with folks to enjoy at home.
In 1989, Charlie Otto, owner of Otto Brothers Brewery, solved the problem of how to safely share small batch craft beer “to-go.” This is when the modern-day amber glass growler was born.The amber color of the glass is there to protect the quality of your fresh craft brew, preventing harmful UV rays from light to penetrate and break down the quality of the beer inside.
The 1990s enjoyed raging popularity when microbreweries began to pop up in communities all across the country, propelling the idea of the growler to the bar scene once again. Over the last decade or so, craft beer advocates have pushed for the legalization of the growler once again with proper sanitation procedures in place to protect the health of consumers and the reputation of brewers. In 2014, North Carolina officially joined nearly every surrounding state through the legalization of the growler.
Get your growler refilled here at Buffalo City Beer, as your go-to source for the best craft brews in the Outer Banks, NC.
Located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Buffalo City Jug Shop is the first growler store on the beach. Satisfy your taste for craft brew with 24 taps, and a full selection of select bottles and cans.
Buffalo City Jug Shop1900 S Croatan HwySuite BKill Devil Hills, NC 27948