Now that the craft beer revolution has officially swept across the nation, there are more and more people on the hunt for tasty small-batch beers, made with love by individually-owned breweries across the country. As a result, there has never been a better time to seek out and sample the craft beer offerings from upstart brewers right here in Los Angeles County. But what do you do when your local watering hole isn't as up to date as you'd like it to be, and it just never seems to have that Ladyface saison you're always craving? Or when you're itching for some Smog City XPA, but the fledgling brew operation doesn't have the equipment (or manpower, or financial resources) to bottle or can the good stuff just yet? Just head to your favorite brewery and pick up a growler.
Despite the menacing name, growlers are a great (and cheap) way to directly support your local craft beer brewer, plus keep you stocked up on all the tasty beer you want. If you've ever stepped foot into a brewery tasting room (say, the brewpub at Golden Road Brewing), you've probably seen them stacked against a wall. These dark brown glass containers generally come in one- or two-liter sizes, often with ceramic tops and rubber sealants to lock in the carbonation and aromatics that any poured beer gives off. Let your bartender know you'd like to take one home, and they'll gladly sterilize it and fill it up with any beer they have on tap.
The benefits of investing in a growler are two-fold. The first is simple math: there are nearly 34 ounces per liter, which means you're getting just over two full 16 ounce pints to take home with you at an exceptionally reduced rate. For two-liter growlers, the savings are even better. Depending on the beer, two-liter growler fills can go for anywhere from $10 - $20, which is at worst $5 per 16-ounce pint. At most bars, you'll pay that for the bottom rung beers anyway. The other primary benefit is availability. By heading straight to the brewery for a growler fill, you are guaranteeing yourself fresh beer poured for you in a controlled environment. Plus, you can often get your hands on seasonals or rare batches of beer that aren't made public beyond the tasting room doors. Smaller breweries that only keg their beers also don't have a way to let you bring home some of their delicious hard work unless you've got a growler. They also allow you to drink your favorite local craft beers at home in your underwear if you so choose, instead of having to solve the existential problem of putting on pants and venturing out into the real world.
For brewers, growlers are oftentimes the foremost way that they can extend their interaction with their customers beyond the tasting room. Tasting the beers in person at Monkish Brewing in Torrance, for example, is not the same as trying a Monkish brew at a downtown speakeasy or noisy West Hollywood beer bar. There are ambient factors and logistical issues that stand between a beer drinker and the brewer that crafted his pint, none of which the brewer themselves can control. Buying a growler also expresses a commitment to a brand and the craft beer lifestyle in general. For the initial cost of the glass container as well as the cost of the fill, you are saying to the brewery "I like your beer and I want to come support you on a regular basis." In exchange, the brewery knocks a few bucks off your per-pint costs and everyone's happy.
There is a lot more to the ever-growing craft beer movement than simply choosing a great local IPA the next time you're out for dinner. Purchasing -- and using -- a growler is a fantastic way to support the local Los Angeles beer scene while simultaneously keeping your fridge stocked up with great beers for days on end. Just know that, with every sip you take from the comfort of your pantsless home, your local brewer thanks you.