While growlers may seem like a recent addition to Ontario�s craft beer landscape, the concept has actually existed for ages. So what is a growler, exactly, and where can you find one in Ontario?
A growler is a refillable vessel for beer, usually made of glass. Though growlers vary slightly in size, the standard is 64 ounces, roughly equivalent to four tallboys or a six-pack. They are filled directly from the tap at the brewery, and sealed with a screw-top lid. Once opened, they should be consumed within 24 hours, making them ideal for a gathering or large dinner party. While many craft breweries sell their year-round brews this way, it’s also a great way to distribute seasonal or rotating tap brews.
Taking our beer home from the bar is something we�ve been doing in North America since the 1900�s. Some claim the name comes from the sound of CO2 escaping from the galvanized pails people used to use to carry their beer home, before we started making growlers out of glass.
Now, a number of craft breweries have opened on-site shops, allowing customers to purchase beer and cider by the bottle, so how is this any different? What separates bottles from growlers are two key features: First, growlers are refillable. Often, customers pay a deposit for their growler (or are simply asked to purchase it for about $5), and are invited to return to the brewery to either exchange it for a full one, or refill it on the spot.
The second difference is that growlers aren’t available for sale at the LCBO (although there are rumours that an LCBO growler-filling station is in the works). In the meantime, the good news is that since growlers must be purchased (and refilled) at the brewery itself, craft brewers have inadvertently created a truly local product.
Where can you find a growler in Ontario? With new breweries opening all the time, there�s almost surely one nearby. Here are some of our favourite places in the province to fill up:
Block Three Brewing Company, St. Jacobs
Currently on offer : Pushbroom Porter, Dead Now Belgian, Single Track Mind (Belgian Single), Mo Money Mo Problems Mosaic IPA
Boshkung Brewing Company, Haliburton
Currently on offer : 35 & 188 Cream Ale, North County Kellerbier, Kangaroo IPA, Black Rock Dark Ale
Brimstone Brewing Co., Fort Erie
Fun Fact : Brimstone sells their beer in growlers AND in 1L bottles they call demi-growlers or ‘Meowlers’.
Currently on offer : Enlightenment Blonde Ale, Sinister Minister IPA
Cameron’s Brewing Co, Oakville
Currently on offer : Recline Pale Ale, Into the Shade Saison, White Oat Savant
Duggans Brewery, Toronto
Currently on offer : 100 Mile Ale (Amber Ale), No. 46 Parkdale Bomber (Golden Lager), No. 9 IPA
Elora Brewing Company, Elora
Currently on offer : A La Mode – Apple Spice Ale, Straw Hat Matt Wheat
Grand River Brewing, Cambridge
Currently on offer : 1913 Traditional Golden Ale, Galt Knife Old Style, Mill Race Mild
Indie Ale House, Toronto
Currently on offer : Breakfast Porter, Broken Hipster Belgian Wit, Barnyard Belgian IPA
Kichesippi Brewing Company, Ottawa
Currently on offer : Heller High Water, Cascadian Dark Ale, Wuchak Polaris (German single-hop IPA)
MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co., Bath
Currently on offer : Crosscut Canadian Ale, 8 Man English Pale Ale, Wild Peppermint Stout, Origin Hefeweisen
Niagara Oast House Brewers, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Currently on offer : Konichiwa Peach, Oast Saison, Beer de Garde
Northwinds Brew House, Collingwood
Currently on offer : it changes to quickly we can’t keep track. You’ll just have to go there!
Royal City Brewing Company, Guelph
Currently on offer : Suffolk St. Session Ale (Special Bitter), Smoked Honey (Hybrid Brown Ale), Dry Hop Pale Ale (Canadian Pale Ale)
Stone City Brewing Company, Kingston
Currently on offer : Uncharted IPA, Ships in the Night Oatmeal Stout, Windward Belgian Wheat
Whitewater Brewing Co., Ottawa Valley
Fun fact : These folks will home-deliver a four-pack of growlers to your door!
Currently on offer : Midnight Stout, Farmers’ Daughter (Blonde Ale), Whistling Paddler (English Style Ale), Class V IPA