Why Do We Call Them Growlers?

The dictionary defines the term “Growler” simply as “a vessel for carrying beer”. Any craft beer drinker these days is familiar with the term, however, its doubtful many know its origin.

While there is not definitive origin to the term growler, there are a few interesting theories as to why we now call these glass bottles full of malty suds this term.

One theory points to a reference in a Harpers issue from 1893, in which they discuss the practice of “rushing the growler”, which referred to kids delivering beer to their parents.

Another states that beer deliveries often arrived during lunch breaks before the workers had eaten, so their stomachs were making said growling noise, in beer anticipation.

Yet another points to the idea that bartenders and beer drinkers would often argue about just how much beer should be added to their not so precisely sized galvanized pails to take home with them at the end of a drinking session, resulting on the customer whining and growling like little dogs.

The last, and most accepted theory, says that in the late 1800s, fresh beer that was carried home in galvanized pails would slosh around in the container, creating a rumbling/growling type noise as the C02 escaped between the lid and pail itself.

Whichever origin story you chose to support, continue to support the growler as it is today, and the craft beer movement it assists.