The Growler

A growler is bigger than a 40, smaller than a pony keg, and perfect for picnics.

Draft beer just tastes better. But unless you're a member of a Greek-lettered organization, or willing to invest in a kegorator, enjoying it at home is a pipe dream. May I propose summer's new best friend: the "growler"? A growler is a half-gallon, sealable glass container filled by a brewery or brewpub for take-home; it's the equivalent of a little more than five bottles of beer. The name's origin in this country refers to the early 20th-century practice of bringing workers pails of beer midday, to calm their growling stomachs. The beer in a growler keeps fresh for a week unopened, a few days once opened. Local breweries that growl (and one that should): Georgetown Brewing Company (5840 Airport Way S.) doesn't bottle. But at the brewery, they offer both of their beers in various sizes for your home drinking pleasure, and their growler is a mere $5. Four fit smartly in the fridge, after adjusting a shelf. Their Manny's IPA is popular among beer nuts, and the Roger's Pilsner is a little spicy and bites enough to make an old Czech proud. They also offer a mini keg equal to about a case of beer ($26), and a one-sixth barrel equal to just over two and a half cases ($50). Hale's Ales (4301 Leary Way N.W.), between Fremont and Ballard, also offers growlers. $12.95 gets you a silk-screened jug filled with the beer of your choice; refills are $8. Bring in your own container, and they'll fill it for 13 cents an ounce. The summery Drawbridge Blonde reminds me of hefeweizen with malty roots. Their German-styled Kolsch is a modern classic—fruity and flavorful but still light. Kolsch is for the beer drinker who finds an IPA too hoppy and a Pilsner too light. Just a four-mile jaunt off I-90 lies Snoqualmie Falls Brewery (8032 Falls Ave. S.E.), a gem among craft breweries. OK, a little out of the way, but it's summer. We're all going to make it to the mountains sometime, right? This is a most excellent pit stop on the way home. I covet their Spring Fever Belgian-style ale. It's so vibrant, all citrus and spice, and it lacks the sweetness of most Belgians. So it's decadent, but still highly refreshing. Snoqualmie's Summer Beer is a Northwest take on the traditional light pilsner with a hint of hoppiness. It's $7 to fill a growler, and you can fill another one with their draft root beer for $6.50 for the kids. (Directions: Elysian Brewing Company (1221 E. Pike St.) sold growlers until they upgraded to a full liquor license; then it became verboten. No longer a legal issue, Elysian hasn't decided whether to take up the practice again. I relish the thought of enjoying a draft of the balanced and bitey Elysian Fields pale ale or the strangely addictive Avatar, an IPA brewed with jasmine flowers only available at the brewpub, on my own patio. You, too? You can bug David Buhler at Elysian into growling again at

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