Food, Lists

Growler Prowler: A List

Amy Rose Spiegel :: Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 5:05 pm

It’s happened to everyone at some point or another.  You’re at a bar, innocently drinking with friends, when someone starts rattling off exactly why they love their beer in excruciating, technical detail.  “It’s the hoppiness that really makes that finish so divine,” or some such.

Yes, my friends, beer culture has essentially become wine culture, replete with its own jargon and condescension.  Usually, you can bullshit your way out of a long-winded history of microbreweries and their oh-so-vastly superior output if you mutter a few words to show that you’re in the know.  Real past responses I’ve used include:

“Unibroue is by far the best German export, I think.  Excuse me for a second, I need to pee.”

“Dogfish Head isn’t THAT overrated.  I think I see my friend over there.”

“Uh, yeah…IPAs.” [Don't judge me too harshly here.  I was slumped in a corner with no real exit strategy].

Anyway, If you’re trying to stay on top of what words you have to know in order to keep up with the expensive-beer-swilling contingent, you might want to know about growlers, which the New York Times is accurately calling a “new old” trend.  See, growlers are rooted in drunkard history back to the late 19th century, but more recently they experienced a boom in usage around 2006.  Before I get into the history too deeply, I’d like to tell you what they are, besides old.

By definition (known in my life as ‘what it says about the topic on Wikipedia’): A growler is a U.S. half gallon (1,890 ml/66.5 imp fl oz) glass jug used to transport draft beer in the United States. They are commonly sold at breweries and brewpubs as a means to sell take-out beer.

This actually works out well in your favor in reference to those awkward conversations: Now, the beer snob won’t have to stand around the tap at a bar in order to get their fix.  Now they can enjoy it from the comfort of their own home, and you can, once again, enjoy going to the bar without fear of having to hear about pilsner, lager, hoegaarten blah blah blah.

In addition to this, there are tons of other reasons why growlers deserve to continue to grow in popularity and consumption.  I’ve compiled them all for you in a list to consider when you’re breaking in (or, for the more experienced user, breaking out) your growler.

1.  They’re picnic ready. A growler will indeed fit inside of your picnic basket if you’re willing to sacrifice most of your food space.  Head down to the park with a friend, lay down your blanket, share the half-sandwich and approximately seven carrot sticks you were able to squish next to your beer, and proceed to get a little tipsy and anger ducks when you try to underfeed them with the scant amount of crust from your bread.  Sounds like a lovely afternoon to me!

2.  Ecology, bro. I could go on about the hipster environmentalism that growlers are sure to inspire across the nation, but the fact of the matter is, they really are great for the environment.  Instead of buying tons of six-packs of glass bottles and their packaging, you reuse one big glass jug.  Typically, the bar where you buy a growler for the first time refills it for cheaper when you bring it back.  Wow, an ecologically sound option that offers a real incentive.  The rest of the world’s technology should take a lesson from this beer vessel.

3. You feel like you’re drinking moonshine. The shape of the container is totally reminiscent of moonshine jugs, except you probably won’t go blind from it.  All of the fun without the sightlessness!

4.  The jugs are fun to play when they’re empty. In conjunction with #3.  The jugs are of the kind that have been used in hillbilly/bluegrass bands since their advent.  Have someone grab a washtub bass (the world’s second-easiest instrument to play, after the jug) and have yourself a hootenanny.

5.  There’s always good beer on hand that doesn’t break the bank. This is another practical reason.  I know, you’re bored already, but it’s true - growlers make it a little less expensive to enjoy great beer at your leisure, which is cool in my book.  Beer from a tap simply tastes better, and now you can keep it in your fridge for cheap.  Personally, I’m not mad at that.

6.  Edward Growler-Hands. To atone for the good sensibilities of #5, I give you the worst idea on this list.  Sure, I know better than anyone that it sounds fun at first, but think about it: that’s about 130oz. of beer.  You’d definitely pass out/die, so please don’t play, okay?  Instead, play the cheater’s version, in which you use a half-growler on each hand!  This way, it’s actually LESS beer than Edward 40-Hands (healthy!) and you’re actually BUILDING MUSCLE TONE (healthier!) by having heavy bottles taped to your hands!!  Think of all the health benefits!!  No, don’t do this, it’s lame and ineffective, and I made up the health parts because I was envisioning an infomercial in my head.

There you have it.  A great argument for getting down with growler power, as far as I’m concerned.  Do you prefer growlers, or totally hate them for some reason I’ve overlooked?  Let me know the deal if you’re a beer fan!