Beer-drinking people, we need to talk. About growlers, and what they’re for, because you seem confused. Especially you, Marylanders.

Take a look at this tweet.

More importantly, take a look at the prices on the growlers in the picture in this tweet. It’s cool. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. Have sticker shock? Sticker rage, even? Me, too. If not, this article is for you.


Now look, I like the store in question. It might be my favorite place to buy single bottles in Montgomery County. They’ve got a good selection and friendly, knowledgeable staff, and you can drink a pint or grab a bite while you shop. But the prices on these growlers… don’t pay them.

Yes, I know that the above establishment has a Sunday half-price growler club. That drops the price of a growler of Jailbreak’s Welcome to Scoville IPA, 64 ounces of beer, to $11. Meanwhile, 72 ounces of that beer, in six 12 ounce, shelf-stable cans, is $13. During non-half-price times you would be getting 64 ounces of that beer (that’s five and one-third 12 ounce bottles for those of you trying to count at home) for $22.

This scenario isn’t a rarity (and neither are a lot of beers on growler lines). With a few notable exceptions, growlers are not a good deal.

With no exceptions, a growler is an imperfect vessel for storing and transporting beer. Per Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver, your growler is probably not as clean as you think it is, and they allow for off-flavors from light and oxidation. Brewers tolerate growlers, often citing a love-hate relationship

For all the beers available on this menu, their 6-pack equivalents – that is, more beer stored correctly – are cheaper than the growlers.

Lest you think I am picking on a place in Montgomery County and another store with a reputation for being expensive, look at this menu. Again, for the price of a 64 ounce growler fill, you could have 72 ounces of beer in better condition. And at my favorite Baltimore bottle shop, there’s one growler deal to be had.

Just to emphasize: beers in six-packs can be consumed 12 ounces at a time; the entire six pack doesn’t start going bad as soon as the first bottle or can is opened; you don’t have to worry about a dirty draft line; and it's a better value.

Do you want to take home beer that’s only available on tap from a brewery? A growler is your friend. Otherwise, please buy bottles or cans.

I know that some shops that offer growler fills advertise that what they have is often only available on draft, but odds are your bottle shop that does growler fills has something comparable (style, flavor profile, alcohol by volume,…) packaged that’s a better value and is just as fresh as draft. And if they don’t, you’re probably better off going someplace else that does.

Look, it’s your money. Spend it how you like. You like growlers, you think they’re a conversation piece at a party, you’re in it for the novelty… enjoy. For those of you who want better beer and would rather not be ripped off, thank you. Please keep on keepin’ on.