The History of Growlers

The mighty growler is quickly becoming one of the most coveted products in the craft beer sector. Offering quality, sustainability and business opportunities, we sometimes wonder where they’ve been all these years!

Join us as we take a little diver back in time through the history of the growler, from its humble beginnings to what it means today.

Where Did Growlers Originate?

While modern beer growlers are shaped like jugs and have caps, the first growlers, dating back to the 19th Century, were more like pails or buckets.

Back then, the only way to enjoy beers at home was to carry them from the pub, and only simple buckets were available. It used to be the job of children to collect beer from the pub and carry it home for their parents.

This process was the standard until around the 1950s when packaging improvements led to beer being sold in cardboard and plastic containers. After this, the concept of the growler slowly disappeared.

The growler as we know and love it today is traced back to 1980s Wyoming and the Otto Brothers' Brewing Company. The Brothers wanted to offer their draft beer on the go, so they looked back through history and created an updated version of the classic growler.

Why Are They Called Growlers?

There are a few different theories around the name, but the most trusted explanation is that it relates to the noise old growlers used to make.

When children transported beer, the swishing of the liquid caused a rumbling noise as the carbon dioxide was released. To some, this sounded like a growl inside the metal bucket, hence the name. In America, children bringing beer back home or to work for lunch or dinner was known as “rushing the growler”.

Another theory behind the name was that customers would frequently moan to bartenders about fully filling the bucket with beer, making them become known as growlers.

How Were Growlers Made?

Back in the day, growlers were the most simple piece of kit you can imagine: literally just a bucket! Thankfully, technology has come a long way since then.

Since growlers were reintroduced in the 1980s, they have primarily been made of glass (although some are made of metal). They are traditionally amber in colour with a screw cap, although many modern versions use a swing stopper.

Growlers usually have a handle built into the glass, although it can also be attached separately.

When Did Growlers Become Popular?

Growlers first made a comeback in the 1980s, but it’s the craft beer revolution of the last decade that has seen them become increasingly mainstream.

Growlers and craft breweries go hand in hand. There are so many benefits of growlers for breweries and customers that it didn’t take long for them to become the standard.

At Growler Store, we’ve been lucky enough to witness the growler revolution first hand. With craft breweries going from strength to strength, growlers will only become more popular amongst customers that know a good beer when they taste one.