Everybody’s getting in on the growler game. Why not you? This handy list will lead you straight to freshly pulled draft beer, from full-service fill-up stations to li’l to-go pints. Plus we give you a short primer on anything that growls, gurgles, and howls.
Q: What’s a growler?
A: According to Beer Advocate, (a magazine by beer drinkers, for beer drinkers), the name has origins in the 19th-century practice of getting one’s weekly beer from pubs in a small to-go pail. And then something about escaping CO2 and some growling, gurgling sounds. At any rate, people have always wanted to buy their draft beer in bulk.
Growlers come in many shapes and sizes, but the main idea is that they hold carryout draft beer. The standard bottle is a brown glass 64-ouncer, and they work like so: Buy a bottle from your brewery or restaurant of choice. Have the barkeep fill it with your favorite draft (prices vary based on the cost of the beer, but budget for about four pints-worth). Drink aforementioned beer. Rinse and repeat.
Q: So…then what’s a howler?
A: When you look up “howler” on Wikipedia (as one does), you get references ranging from a Holiday World roller coaster called The Howler to the mascot of the Phoenix Coyotes. But you don’t get much that has to do with beer. The concept is simple, though: It’s just a wee growler—usually 32 ounces.
Q: How do I clean this thing?
A: Don’t use soap, as it will leave a fine residue and impart some unwanted sudsy notes to your otherwise tasty draft. Good hot water will do you just fine.
Q: How long will the beer stay good?
A: Since the whole idea of a growler is to get the freshest beer possible, you’ll want to crack that baby open as soon as possible. But, if your provider has one of those fancy Pegas CrafTap filling systems (see: Ei8ht Ball and Cappy’s), then the unopened growler will keep in a refrigerator for up to a month. The Pegas will also rinse your growler and “purge” all the oxygen with a blast of CO2.
Other spots will just pull straight from the tap or use a hose to minimize foam. You’ll want to drink these growlers right away.
Q: Can I take my empty growler to other breweries for a fill-up?
A: Yes! Most breweries and restaurants shouldn’t have a problem with this. If they say no, give ’em a dirty look from us.
WHERE TO GET ONE:
1. Incline Public House
Come for the andouille corndogs, leave with a growler from one of Incline’s 12 taps. And they run a great daily deal: Jars are filled with four pints’-worth but you only pay for three. $5/growler plus fill-up. inclinepublichouse.com
2. Party Town
Behind these doors lie 18 taps featuring varieties ranging from New Holland Rye Pale Ale to Left Hand Imperial Smoked Porter. And you can get pints, quarts, or full 64-ouncers. $1–$3/pint, quart, or growler plus fill-up. partytownky.com
3. Moerlein Lager House
Fill a growler with a Moerlein original Northern Liberties IPA, Over-the-Rhine Ale, or any of the nearly dozen house beers they generally have on tap. $5/growler plus fill-up ($8 fills after 4 p.m. on Tues and Fri). moerleinlagerhouse.com
4. Cappy’s Craft Wine & Spirits
This little suburban shop has classed up its growler station with a fancy filling system. Choose from more than a dozen options, including varieties from Athens, Ohio, brewery Jackie O’s. $3.50–$5/growler plus fill-up. lovelandcappys.com
5. Cork ‘N Bottle
The good folks at Cork run a half-dozen or so taps at any given time. Try varieties like Lagunitas Brewing Company Sumpin’ Extra, Deschutes Brewery Inversion IPA, and Country Boy Brewing Lazy Rye. $2.50/growler plus fill-up. corknbottle.com
6. Arthur’s Café
You may know Arthur’s for its extensive burger menu. But they’ll also fill up your own growler or sell you a cute single-serve to-go pint of whatever beer you happened to be enjoying that night. $5/jar plus fill-up. (513) 871-5543
7. Ei8ht Ball Brewing
The new Party Source–adjacent brewery is a booze-lover’s theme park, with more than 40 rotating taps featuring some of the world’s best beer. If you can’t find something you like, you’re doing it wrong. $2–$3/“grumbler” (half-growler) or growler plus fill-up. ei8htballbrewing.com