19 June 2012

Discussion: 32oz Growlers

32oz growlers are nothing new.  Resealable containers of less than 64oz have been a fixture of many tap rooms and breweries long before 2012.  But the Super Bowl changed everything in Indianapolis.  Suddenly the requirement to drink beer outdoors created a new market for tap rooms.  A market that could not be catered to with an unwieldy 64oz glass jug.  Seemingly overnight, every tap room within a stone's throw of downtown was offering 32oz cylindrical containers of beer.  Many of them plastic so that drunk party people couldn't turn Georgia Street into a wasteland of shattered glass.  Now almost every tap room carries them.

Where did this idea originate?

The Super Bowl didn't create these containers, breweries have been using them for a long time.  But who came up with this idea?  And more importantly, who came up with the container shape?  A trip out to Portland this past spring revealed that the 32oz container was the preferred to-go vessel for Cascade's beer.  But how long had they been doing it?

What are they called?

Before the Super Bowl, the name "bullet" seemed quite common.  This is almost surely derived from the shape of the container.  The term "howler" is also seen frequently.  Howler appears to be short for Half Growler, which makes a lot of sense.  Other names have been seen around as well, but I don't know if there is a definitive one.  What is your preference?

Do you buy them?

The 32oz size seems a lot more practical for high alcohol beers that might be more difficult to drink 64oz of, or perhaps uniquely flavored beers that are good in small quantities but get tiresome after too much.  The trade-off of a smaller package is often a higher cost per ounce than that of a growler.  Do you see 32oz growlers as a welcome addition to the carry-out beer scene, or were you happier with a single refillable option?



  1. The first 32oz growlers I saw here were at Sun King. They're just 1L swingtop bottles that home-brewers commonly use, so nothing ground breaking I guess. The first time I saw the "shampoo bottles" was as Flat12, then almost immediately after at Bier. The first 32 oz I had was actually Cherry Porter from Wild Rose Brewery when I was in Canada, and it was a pre-packaged bottle bought from a liquor store, not a growler fill.

    I greatly prefer 32oz to 64, even if I'm buying two 32oz of the same beer. I like to finish a growler when I open one, so that isn't always practical when dealing with a half gallon of beer, where I can drink two pints of just about anything on any given day.

  2. I'm a frugal mo'fo, so the value proposition gets in my way...
    but I'm glad that it is an option and there are a lot of Pros. I hadn't even considered howardf's angle about the (sometimes) challenge that is polishing off a full 64 on my own. Lighter coolers to lug around also jumps to mind.

  3. For someone like me who usually doesn't drink more than 2 beers in a sitting, 32 oz. containers are perfect. I'm glad that many brewers provide the option.

  4. I haven't actually tried one, but the idea of 32 as an option is nice. I'm often the only one drinking the growlers around my household and sometimes am left with more than I need.

  5. I REALLY like the Swing Top 32 oz growlers from Sun King. Its a good way to enjoy their seasonals without committing to an entire growler. It also air-tight, so you can purge it with CO2 and keep it for much longer.

    That's my biggest beef with growlers - oxidation. The quality of draft beer poured from a tap into a growler is already severely diminished (unless its purged with CO2 first like Upland's Tasting Room). After a couple of pour and recaps, its far from the beer you paid for.

  6. I like the 32oz size, simply because it allows me to try more beers without committing to half a gallon of them.

    More than anything, I think I enjoyed using them similar to a resealable water bottle during Super Bowl week.

    I'm still curious what everyone is calling them. I bounce back and forth between howler (which I think makes more sense) and bullet (because I heard that name first).

  7. I first heard of them as Snarlers. I think I got my first one at Big Beaver Brewing in Loveland, CO. My second from Pagosa Brewing with my favorite kind of beer - chili beer.