In late 19th and early 20th century, Growlers in various forms were the way people took beer home before bottled beer was commonplace. You would take what was basically a bucket with a lid to your local bar and have it filled. How this pail earned its name as a “growler” is somewhat disputed. Whether it was the sound of the CO2 escaping from the pail lid or the response of a customer to a bar tender who only partially filled up their pail by leaving a thick head, the name stuck. Somewhere along the line they fell out of fashion and legality with the introduction of pasteurized bottling, automated plants, and local health departments. This was probably a good thing almost 100 years ago; however, today these are no longer a concern. The present day problem is that not all beer is produced in a quantity that makes bottling and distributing feasible for craft brewers to share with folks to enjoy at home.
In 1989, Charlie Otto, owner of Otto Brothers Brewery, was posed with the problem of how to share small batch craft beer “to – go” and the modern day amber glass growler was born. Thanks Charlie!
Over the last decade or so craft beer advocates have pushed for the legalization of the growler once again with proper sanitation procedures in place to protect consumer’s health and brewers reputation’s. North Carolina officially joined nearly every surrounding state at the beginning of 2014 by legalizing the growler. Hurray for democracy!