April Showers Bring Beer Growlers

06 April 2014

April Showers Bring Beer Growlers

You are likely already familiar with Growlers, but let's see what Wikipedia has to say on the subject, shall we?

A growler is a glass or ceramic jug used to transport draft beer in Australia, the United States and Canada. They are commonly sold at breweries and brewpubs as a means to sell take-out craft beer. The exploding growth of craft breweries and the growing popularity of home brewing has also led to an emerging market for the sale of collectible growlers.

Growlers are generally made of glass and have either a screw-on cap or a hinged porcelain gasket cap, which can provide freshness for a week or more. A properly sealed growler will hold carbonation indefinitely and will store beer like any other sanitized bottle. Some growler caps are equipped with valves to allow replacement of CO2 lost while racking. The modern glass growler was first introduced by Charlie and Ernie Otto of Otto Brother's Brewing Company in 1989.[5]


The term likely dates back to the late 19th century when fresh beer was carried from the local pub to one's home by means of a small galvanized pail. It is claimed the sound that the CO2 made when it escaped from the lid as the beer sloshed around sounded like a growl.


That all sounds about right! Not entirely convinced about the "hold carbonation indefinitely" line, and the story about how Growlers got their name is likely apocryphal, but the gist is there: a growler is a reuseable container with a colourful name intended for the transport of beer from pubs (or breweries) to the home, for home consumption.


We like Growlers.


In fact, we love them. Let me explain why:

Like the humans that make it, beer is mostly water. So water can have a huge impact on how beer tastes! Without getting too far into the subject; before humans were able to understand the chemical profile of their local water (and then change it) they were obligated to brew beers that worked well with whatever water they were blessed with. This was a long-term process of trial and error that gave rise to the many amazing and classic forms of the barley beverage we know and love today.


The quintessential example is Pilsner, from the Bohemian city Plzeň, or Pilsen. That cities water was remarkably soft and delicate, and incredibly well suited to the creation of a beer that has become arguably the worlds favorite style! Pilsners can be beguiling, seductive, deceptively simple, and remarkably hard to make. A great Pilsner is like a great piece of Calligraphy- it looks easy on the surface- but everything has to be just so for it to work. EVERYTHING. They quickly become cluttered and busy. They are bold, but with subtlety and grace. And when they are off- even by a smidgen- you just know it right away. You feel it.

Hidai Nankoku The Taste Of Pilsner (probably?!)

                                                  Hidai Nankoku The Taste Of Pilsner (probably?!)

Brewers surrounding the area of Plzeň (and eventually the world) drove themselves nuts trying to duplicate the simple beauty of the Pilsner beer, but without the right water they were doomed to fail from the start. Again, everything has to be just so. Still, just like artists who have made some amazing artworks in their "failed" attempts to duplicate a beloved style, these brewers created alot of great beers in their attempts to recreate the Pilsner.

This is all to say that water is very important. Water gives us great Stouts in Dublin, Great IPAs in Burton-on-Trent, and now-a-days, great beer everywhere it's made; where water is considered.

Black Oak (our contract brewer) for example, uses reverse osmosis water. This gives them a blank slate upon which to build whatever water profile they want. Black Oak can brew with Dublin water, Burton-on-Trent water, and yes, even Plzeň water. They have the ability to make any style they want, and make it damn well. Put simply, we no longer have to brew in Plzeň to make a good Pilsner.

So it makes, in our estimation, absolutely ZERO sense to consume petroleum products which have been dug up and processed at a great cost, in order to ship beer -a product that is mostly water- across vast amounts of water. Beer is a wonderfully renewable product. Petroleum is not. We now have the technology to make beer taste however we want, wherever it's brewed. Romance and marketing keep imported beer alive, but it is our opinion that drinking imported beer is... a bad idea. To put it mildly! (And that's without considering the plain fact that beer is best fresh!)

Locally made beer is a great option for many reasons but that is another one for you!

Still, there is "The Last Mile" to consider, even with locally made beer. There is a some debate over which is more sustainable; returnable or one-way glass; but both have nothing on the Growler. Using your local as a beer distributer makes alot of sense. Your local likely gets beer in stainless steel kegs, a beer vessel that is durable, reused many, many, many times before being repaired or recycled, and is an excellent and proven technology for transporting beer in its freshest condition and sealed away from light or air- both enemies of beer. Bottles let both in slowly. (Brown Bottles with pry-off caps are best, but kegs are still superior.) Getting beer from your local is not only convenient, it's also likely to give you an incredibly fresh product in top condition (assuming your local shares our passion for clean tap lines) all in a very sustainable way. Firm numbers are hard to come by, but Growlers are estimated to have diverted many tons of waste from landfills... in the United States.

Sadly, in Ontario, our laws reduce the mighty growler to an awkward and largely impractical large-format bottle. We are simply not allowed to buy our beer in a pub, and then take it home to drink it.

The Ontario government has, since the end of prohibition, been making our liquor laws less draconian in drips and drabs, but the winds of change are blowing a bit stronger these days... We think growlers are an old idea whose time has come once again, and we will champion the idea until growler culture is allowed to flourish in Ontario.

In the meantime, we are providing you with THE BEST GROWLER.


Growlers may be an old idea whose time has once again come, but we can sure do a hell of a lot better than a 'friggin bucket. And a big bottle isn't much better. Bottles are glass. Glass lets in light. Glass breaks. Sometimes glass breaks when it's carrying beer to a party. This loss of good beer is tragic and preventable. Sometimes people show up to a party with cut hands and no beer after picking up shards of glass from a bikelane after falling off of a longboard. Hypothetically speaking of course.

All those things we just said about kegs being awesome? We mean it. So our growler is a 'friggin mini-keg. Forged from the most stainless of steel, and etched with the most awesome of lasers, our growlers are a triumph of form and function. 

They keep your beer sealed, fresh, and away from light. AND THEY HOLD PRESSURE. If you homebrew, you can use these to force-carbonate your brite beer. Our growlers come with a standard screw-on cap, but the manufacturer has carbonation caps for sale- and they tell us they are working on a dispensing cap (which would make these growlers function like true lil' kegs!) so that is entirely awesome. 

Once the shipment is in, we will have these for sale at events and in our webstore (Sadly- only available empty- see draconian liquor laws, above) along with other Garden Brewers merchandise.

-The Garden Brewers

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