Will the Glass Growler Go Extinct?
Convenience, cost, and -- in some states -- the law might spell the end of glass growlers.
Written by Alex E. Weaver
Photography by butch/Flickr
I don’t know anyone who likes growlers. And I spend much of my day surrounded by people who live and breathe craft beer. Long the go-to vessel for imbibing the freshest beer possible, growlers have grown archaic, replaced by the cheaper, lighter, easier to deal with aluminum can. Why would anyone _- brewers or consumers — want to deal with a glass bottle the size of a basketball anymore?
The answer, more and more, is that they don’t. Some breweries are abolishing growlers outright, peddling cans only or relying instead on the trendy crowler — a 32-ounce can that provides the same to-go efficiency without the weight, expense or breakability of glass. Theresa McCulla, brewing historian at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, recently floated the idea that the crowler could be the future of craft beer.
“Small breweries are finding the crowler to be a cost-effective alternative to bottling or the traditional glass growler,” she told me.
For the vast majority of craft beer purveyors, especially newer ones, growlers are more trouble than they’re worth. e
Further, some states don’t allow growlers to be filled anywhere but the brewery from which they were purchased. For even a passing beer fan, that can mean a dozen or more growlers taking up space at home when two or three would suffice.
Massachusetts just repealed its such law, allowing breweries to fill any growler so long as its unmarked. This is a win — presumably, with a little elbow grease, I can now bring my growing stockpile of Tree House Brewing growlers for a fill-up at a brewery much closer to home.
But the question still stands: Will this all matter a year from now? Some breweries will hold out forever, I’m sure. But for the vast majority of craft beer purveyors, especially newer ones, growlers are more trouble than they’re worth.
McCulla might be right about crowlers. But breweries might not need to go that far. I, for one, am just as happy with a four-pack of pounders as I am with two crowlers, assuming the same type of beer can be had in both.