San Diego Puts the Growl into Growler

We just returned from a visit to San Diego which included visits to several of its renown craft brewers (Ballast Point, Green Flash and Stone). Since we were driving, we had the opportunity to bring back some beer to enjoy at home. But we didn’t want just any beer. We wanted to bring back unique beers that could not be found at home. The ideal candidates would be draft beers produced in small quantities (not available in bottles or cans). And the only way to get these beers home is to fill a growler. As a point of reference, in Arizona we can take any growler, regardless of whose logo is on it, to any place that fills growlers. And there are many places that  fill growlers – restaurants, breweries, bars, grocery stores and liquor stores.  So we assumed that we could take a couple of our growlers with us to San Diego to bring back some great beer. Logical right? Wrong. We had a lesson in store for us.

Two growlers. Note the different caps & logos

Two growlers. Note the different caps & logos

After sampling beers at Ballast Point, Green Flash and Stone we found 2 that we loved from Stone – Lupulin Loop Single Hop Equinox and Grow a Pear Cliche. These beers are not brewed at Stone’s main brewery in Escondido but at their Liberty Station World Bistro and Garden (a spectacular venue) which produces fewer beers, in smaller quantities and available in draft only.

After dinner, we took our growlers to their filling station/store and asked for them to be filled with each of our favorite beers. We were told, very politely, that our growlers could not be filled because they had metal screw caps and logos that did not say Stone. This business practice was developed and approved by their corporate lawyer (that’s a firm way of saying there’s no room for exceptions). We were totally surprised and disappointed. But wait! Stone had workarounds – we could purchase a Stone branded growler for a mere $12 (vastly over priced and we would have had to have bought 2) or purrowlers (which I had never heard of). What’s a purrowler? It’s a single use can that contains 32 oz. It is filled on the spot and sealed with an old-school pull tab for opening later.

Finding ourselves between a rock and a hard place, we chose to fill 4 purrowlers (two each of our selected beers).  And you know, they’re actually kind of cool looking, easy to handle, store and transport. The biggest issue is that once opened they have to be consumed whereas you can reseal a growler and the beer will keep for a couple of days.

Purrowlers. Note the old school pull tabs

Purrowlers. Note the old school pull tabs

After we got home we looked into California’s growler law so we could be better prepared for our next visit. We found that practices vary from brewery to brewery. See Beer Run: Despite new law, refills for third-party growlers still hit and miss.

I suppose next time we’ll bring our covered up Russian River growler and be prepared to order up some more purrowlers. At least we’re not the only ones confused, confounded and growling about it. Meow

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2 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    In CT we have free-range growlers. In Massachusetts I hear you need to have growlers branded of the beer within. This is so if you get pulled over the State can go after the brewery. That from the state of John Adams – Patriot Brewer. But we all know it’s not the same Mass as John lived in….

  2. Dot says:

    So I guess the 2 growlers that we bought will make their way to Arizona where we were first introduced to the whole concept by you and CiCi. Looking forward to enjoying some fine beer from our growlers with you both.

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