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From my Tortilla Flats youth, I remember grandmothers in all-day aprons walking down the streets with buckets in their hands. They were buying menudo at the neighborhood Mexican restaurant and taking it home for their families' Sunday tables.
Growlers remind me of menudo buckets. But growlers are better-suited to filling with beer, root beer or ginger ale.
Growlers are reusable, resealable half-gallon glass containers that some breweries will fill up for just more than the price of a single pint at a pub. A growler holds four pints. Do the malt math.
The growlers in the picture are relatively plain and simple, about 5 bucks each. Some growlers are the ultimate in beer bling.
Growlers and 32-ounce medicine bottles in my modest collection come from Puget Sound breweries. One of them is a present (mmm, smoked porter) that my wife brought me from her trip to Amherst, Mass. Except for one of the medicine bottles, I can take my empties to breweries whence I bought them and have them re-filled with fresh beer – or root beer and ginger ale in some cases. The beer (or soda) stays fresh for a couple of days after opening.
My newest growler is from A&W Root Beer. The company started offering them earlier this year. They're $6.99 filled. Refills are $1.49 – just a few pennies more than the cost of a 20-ounce bottle of A&W at a convenience market. And it's draft root beer.
At some breweries, growlers are a necessity. Georgetown Brewing Company, for example, doesn't distribute its beer in bottles – it's on tap only. But at the south Seattle brewery, you can get your growler filled with Manny's Pale Ale, Roger's Pilsner or Choppers Red for $5. I'm told Georgetown sells about 200 growlers of beer most Fridays.
Besides Georgetown, I also like growlers and medicine bottles to-go from Elk Head Brewing in Buckley, because that's the easiest way to drink Elk Head's hard-to-find-on-tap beers, except for the all-you-can-drink samples at the modest tap room.
Olympia's Fish Brewing Company is another favorite place to fill growlers – with organic ales or ginger brew. To save gas, I've asked a co-worker who lives on the Kitsap Peninsula to bring me growlers from Heads Up Brewing and Silver City Restaurant and Brewery.
The other medicine bottle in the picture came from the Powerhouse in Puyallup, which sells two of its higher-octane ales that way, but does not refill them.
Are you into growlers? Where do you fill up?