July 1 marked the beginning of the legalization of the 64-ounce growler in Florida. At long, long last, the ubiquitous beer-to-go container size that the rest of the country has been enjoying for years is now available for consumers across the Sunshine State.
But because our beer scene is so young, there's probably still a few of you who are new to this concept and are hearing about growlers for the first time.
No worries; we've got you covered.
What are growlers?
They're a beer drinker's best friend. In a nutshell, they're refillable containers that allow patrons to take home certain beers that would otherwise be available only on tap at brewery taprooms or in certain bars. They run the gamut of 32-ounce, 64-ounce, and 128-ounce containers, with 64-ounce being the most common, industry-standard size.
How do I get beer?
Always with the hard-hitting questions. To get tasty, brewery-fresh beer, just take your clean growler to your local taproom, find a beer you can fill it with, and pay for it.
A clean growler?
Yes, you must clean your growler first. Use some hot soapy water to clean if out, making sure there aren't any chunky particulates floating about. Then rinse it and let it dry. Personally, I try to do this at least the day before I'm going to go get it filled so that the glass (or stainless steel) has ample time to cool back down. There's nothing worse than a warm, freshly cleaned growler. Well, maybe when that one bar fills a steaming-hot, straight-from-the-dishwasher tumbler glass with beer...
How long is it good for?
Unless you open it up, beer in a growler is pretty good for a week or so. Dogfish Head Quality Control Manager Rebecca Newman recommends treating it like the perishable product that it is. "Beer in a growler is like milk from the market. Get it home quick, keep it cold, and don't let it sit around too long… Did I mention keep it cold?" She couldn't be more right. After opening a growler, it needs to be consumed within 24 hours for best taste. Remember, beer is carbonated, and that carbonation is going to want to escape from the liquid as fast as possible. After a day opened, your beer will be pretty flat, and that's never good.
Can I drink it on my way home?
No, that part of the alcohol law hasn't changed. Growlers are strictly for off-premises consumption and will be signed, sealed, and delivered to your hands, but you'll have to wait until you reach your destination to imbibe. Just keep it cold on the way and you'll be good to go. Maybe stash a cooler in the car to protect your precious, perishable cargo from the South Florida heat.
Drink it? I don't know what you want from me. Just enjoy your purchase by yourself (glutton!) or with a couple of friends. Don't drink from the growler directly. Aside from being tacky, you won't get the most out of your beer. Pour that brew into the appropriate vessel for maximum aroma and flavor. (See also: Choose the Right Beer Glass, Get the Most Out of Your Brew) Just don't let any of the locally made beer go to waste. Also, don't drop your growler. That would be bad. Ninkasi wouldn't approve.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers, and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.