Americans consumer over 15 million gallons of beer each year. Some of that is draft beer, but even if draft sales accounted for half, that would be over 7 million gallons divvied up into individual bottles and cans. While part of that material is made using recycled content, we're still talking a lot of raw materials. That's where the growler comes in.
The main purpose of the growler is to allow smaller breweries, like Green Man Brewery in Asheville, NC, to sell beer to go without having an expensive and energy- and labor-intensive bottling setup. A lot of these places will even give you a discount if you bring back your empty growlers for a refill or swap them out for full ones.
The term growler allegedly dates back to the late 1800's, when folks would pick up to go beer in lidded buckets. When gas would bubble up from the lid, the container would emit a growling sound. Since then, the growler has come a long way. In the 50's and 60's, folks used them to skirt blue laws that outlawed beer sales on Sundays. They'd take their beer home in waxed cardboard containers. One New York bar in the 80's used to sell refillable gallon containers of its brew.
The modern growler supposedly originated at Otto Brothers Brewery, when they began selling their beer in screen-printed half gallon glass bottles.
A typical growler is still a half gallon. These 64oz containers hold just slightly less beer than a six back of bottles but use far less glass to do so.
A refillable growler does more than save on the impact from materials. Since you're probably hitting up a local brewery to trade in your empties, it means that beer has a much shorter trip to your fridge.
Do you guys have bars, package stores, or breweries near you that offer growlers for sale? Do they let you trade in or refill your empties? Spill it in the comments!