Craft beer fans in Los Angeles have never had more choices for local beer, and you're not limited to enjoying fresh brews just in the brewery's tap rooms or buying bottles or cans to take home. One of the best ways to enjoy the freshest brews at home is with a growler -- a specialized glass jug that you can have filled and re-filled at nearly all of L.A.'s local breweries.
Historically, growlers were metal pails with tight-fitting lids that were used to take beer home from the saloon. These days, growlers are glass jugs that hold either one or two liters of beer and are sealed with either a screw-on cap or a bail-top stopper. When properly filled and sealed, they will keep a beer fresh and carbonated for a few days, but once they're opened the beer will quickly go flat and should be enjoyed within 36 hours (for best results, keep your filled jugs as cold as possible, as cold beer will not go flat as quickly).
Getting a growler filled is a great way to enjoy the freshest beer from breweries, especially beers that are not available in bottles or cans, and they provide an important revenue source for the start-up brewery. The initial buy-in for the glass itself varies from a few dollars for the 1-liter screw-top bottles to about $20 for the larger and heavier bail-top jugs, and the cost to fill a growler ranges from under $10 for a 1-liter "mini growler" to more than $20 for two liters of a brewery's special release brews. The bottles are endlessly reusable; just be sure to rinse them out promptly and thoroughly when you pour the last pint from one.
One downfall of the growler is that, in California at least, the law requires that a brewery only fill a growler printed with their own name and address. You can't have Monkish Brewing fill one of your Beachwood BBQ bottles. This can lead to an unwieldy collection of empty glass jugs for breweries across the Southland, but it's a small price to pay for the convenience of fresh and local beer in your own fridge.
Where's your favorite spot to have a growler filled?