Local breweries flourish and resurrect the growler

BOULDER, Colo., July 18 (UPI) -- The number of U.S. beer breweries has now topped the days before Prohibition, said the craft beer program director of the Brewers Association, a trade group.

The surge in local breweries, producing what is called craft beer, has brought the total number up to about 2,500, said Julia Herz, the program director.


That tops the number from the days before the alcohol was illegal, a period known as Prohibition that lasted from 1920 to 1933.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that local breweries with more frequency are sidestepping the bottling process by allowing patrons to fill up their own "growlers," which are beer jugs filled at a tap.

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The growlers come come in various sizes, generally holding 32 or 64 ounces of beer. In the pre-Prohibition era they were frequently made of tin. In modern times, the concept was resurrected by Charlie Otto, co-founder of Otto Brothers Brewery in Jackson Hole, Wyo., the Journal reported.

Otto, however, favored cider jugs, instead of tin and the idea spread after growlers were featured in a cover story run by the magazine New Brewer in 1991, the Journal said.


One growler business, Portland Growler Co., said it sold 300 growlers priced at $65 per growler in its first year of business and 10 times that many in its second year.

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Growler stations are now appearing in a variety of locations from drug stores to national grocery chain Whole Foods Market, which now has 40 in-store growler stations in nine states.

"We had known of a few small shops in neighborhoods that were smaller versions of growler stations, and that's when the light bulb went off," says Christopher Manca, northeast specialty coordinator for Whole Foods.

"If you don't live in the heart of one of these craft beer hubs, it is convenient for you if you're in Whole Foods anyway buying your food," he said.

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