A brief note to folks stumbling upon this blog for the first time - this blog is not intended to be a mind blowing analysis of anything. I just write to keep my thoughts and share with other people who may be interested. This post is probably quite simple for most people who are interested enough in beer to read beer blogs, etc., but I hope you still enjoy it!
Let's start off with what a growler is. I know some people just don't know and hate to ask. It's a jug for your beer! Yup, just a glass bottle waiting to be filled with beery goodness. They come in clear and dark glass and with twist tops and with flip caps and each one is a bit different. Typical size is 64 oz, but you can find them much bigger and smaller. Once you open a growler the beer is good for about 24 hours typically. It'll lose carbonation and flavor after that. If you pick up a growler you're safe keeping it in your fridge for a while, but my general rule is no longer than 7 days before opening it. But really, why are you taking so long to drink your beer anyway?
Growlers are great, but where do you find them? I've found all of mine at breweries that sell their beer primarily in growlers. Expect to pay a small extra fee on top of the cost of beer to get one, but the good news is that you get to keep them indefinitely for the most part. If you are buying a fancy one, you could pay lots, but I've found them pretty cheap most places.
Growler fills are all over the place and tend to depend on the type of beer you're putting in them. Most places will fill growlers that you've purchase just about anywhere. The only problem getting them filled is if you get them in unique sizes or shapes. If you get the standard 64 oz style (see below), you'll be fine anywhere you go.
Cleaning them can be a pain if you say forget and let it sit empty for a few days. The solution is to just remember to rinse when you pour that last glass. Rinse with hot water a few times, swish around good, and set it up to dry (no lid, upside down). Don't bring dirty growlers anywhere. Nobody will clean them and it's not a pretty sight when they sit too long.
Why would you want to use a growler? First, there are a lot of great local breweries that don't bottle or can their beers. Sure, you can go to the brewery and try their beer, but what happens if you want to take some home for friends to try or so that you can enjoy a bit more than you could at a brewery (especially if you're driving)! Second, they make great things to take to parties. My husband and I frequently fill one or two up at a local brewery and take it to friend's houses on the weekends. It's a great way to share your favorite beer from a brewery that people may never have otherwise. And lastly, because it's frequently cheap and convenient!
The tricky part can be traveling with those growlers. We have a soft-sided cooler that fits 3 growlers comfortably and 4 with a squeeze. If we're going out on a weekend and expect to be hitting breweries, we throw that in the car. We pack our growlers with a towel between each one so they don't spend the entire trip knocking up against each other. One important thing to keep in mind when transporting those growlers are open container laws! Don't just throw them on your front seat. Most breweries just screw on a top and that could be a BIG problem for you if you get pulled over.
If you've made it all the way to the end of my rambling post, please excuse if it's at all nonsensical as my fever is doing quite the number on me, here's a list of awesome places to fill a growler...ok, really, they're just some of my favorites (and keep in mind I do live out in Kitsap County):
7 Seas Brewing in Gig Harbor
99 Bottles in Federal Way
Georgetown Brewery in Seattle (Georgetown)
Slippery Pig Brewing in Poulsbo
Sound Brewery in Poulsbo
And that's not to say there's not a million more awesome places to get your growler filled, but those are places I like. Where will you get your next growler filled?