Remember how everyone used to give wine as a gift? Here’s something more Tacoma in nature: Growler jugs full of local beer. And something for Tacomans with a sense of humor - hand knitted growler sweaters sold at The Red Hot. Read on.
The explosion of growlers is a recent phenomenon, although growlers long have been a delivery vehicle for selling bulk beer to customers looking for something better than a sixer to take home. Around here, there are so many places that fill growlers, it's impossible to list them all (feel free to chime in with your favorite growler fill spot). Here are a few of my favorites:
Breweries with growlersFill your own growler at Wingman Brewers, wingmanbrewers.comAt 7 Seas in Gig Harbor, you can buy a super fancy growler that's a collector's item. More info here.Harmon Taproom is a great place to get a growler fill - they even have growler fills discounted to $8 from 5-6 p.m. More info hereElk Head, 28120 state Route 410, Buckley; 360-829-2739, also sells growlers full of their beersEngine House No. 9 fills growlers - and they've recently expanded the number of beers they brew. Details here.
Bottle shops with growlersPint Defiance: 2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma, 253-302-4240, pintdefiance.com (Pint Defiance has a collector's stainless steel growler it's selling right now)99 Bottles: 35002 Pacific Highway S., Federal Way, 253-838-2558, 99bottles.netWorld Beers: 5602 S Lawrence St., Tacoma, 253-475-7432, tacomaworldbeer.com
Taverns with growlersThe Red Hot - a bar with the best selection of craft taps in that part of town, 2914 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253-779-0229, redhottacoma.comParkway Tavern has growler fills and a constantly revolving selection of craft taps, 313 N. I St., Tacoma, 253-388-8748, Facebook here
Growler accessories? Got you covered.
At the Red Hot is an accessory for the well-groomed beer fan: growler sweaters. Lifelong Tacoman Kassie Mitchell makes the growlers as a side business. It's not just a sweater, it's also a handle - a long strap makes it easy to transport the growlers. I will resist referring to it as a man-bag.
The story of why she makes the growler sweaters started with a road trip with her boyfriend this summer to Minnesota that included boredom and a lot of brew pub stops. Wrote Mitchell when I asked her about her sweaters, " On our four- day trip we had stopped at several brewpubs and picked up some new growlers for our collection along the way. On the way home from the store I could hear the growlers rolling around the back of the car. When I got back to the house I went to move the growlers so they wouldn’t clank into each other and noticed the paint on the artwork was chipping. It came to me I could crochet a cover to protect the growler in the car and also to add a handle you can throw over your shoulder to make it easier to carry. Since then I have found lots of other uses for them as well. The large one will also hold a ½ gallon liquor bottle (just saying, lol) or a two liter bottle of soda. The new smaller one holds a “growlerette” or wine or fifth of liquor bottle. The Sweater keeps the bottle condensation off your table, and I think it looks better when you walk into your friend’s family BBQ." Reach Mitchell at email@example.com if you want a custom growler sweater. They're available for $20 at the Red Hot.
Another must-have beer accessory
So what does the fashionable beer fan need for a holiday gift? How about a custom beer can koozie from the Parkway Tavern? They're $2 each and if you bring it in on Tuesdays after 5 p.m., you'll get 50 cents off your beer. Find details here
How about a sixer?
So you don't want a growler, but you do want to assemble a mighty fine six pack from a local bottle shop. Here are recommendations for assembling a custom six-pack from bottle shop owners Barry Watson of Pint Defiance in Tacoma and Tiffany Adamowski of 99 Bottles in Federal Way.
Barry's six pack of awesome: Pelican Brewing Bad Santa CDA, Pike Auld Acquaintance, 2 Beers Hearth Spiced Ale, Silver City Winter Bock, Alesmith Yulesmith, & Fremont Abominable.
Tiffany's six pack of awesome, with tasting notes:Fremont Abominable: Lovingly nicknamed "A-bomb!" It's velvety on the tongue and rich with flavors of toasty grains, chocolate and nuts. Brewed in Seattle. Available in 12oz cans & 22oz bottles.Maritime Pacific Jolly Roger: The quintessential Seattle-brewed winter ale. It's malty and moderately bitter, with rum-like notes. Available in 12oz bottles.Silver City Old Scrooge: It's an English-style Barleywine (as strong as wine but an ale made from barley), and will develop notes of apricot & cherry if you've got the patience to cellar it like a fine wine. When young & fresh, the fruit notes are there but the caramel background is prominent. Brewed in Silverdale. Available in 22oz bottles.Iron Horse Cozy Sweater: The recipe changes every year. This year is a vanilla milk stout, so expect flavors of chocolate, coffee, cream and vanilla. Brewed in Ellensburg. Available in 22oz bottles.Schooner EXACT Hoppy Holidays: It's brewed in Seattle with rich, deep dark chocolate malts and piney-herbal hops. Available in 22oz bottles. Keep an eye peeled for its bourbon-aged version, "Hoppy the Woodsman," at your favorite local bar.Deschutes Jubelale: It's hard to imagine wintertime without a bottle -- or six pack -- of this Northwest staple. This ale has flavors of dark caramel, nuts, dark fruit and pine. The label changes every year and features the talents of Oregon artists. Brewed in Oregon. Available in 12oz bottles.