Enjoy small-batch craft beer at home by filling up a jug straight from the tap at your favourite brewery, bottle shop or bar

As far as measurements go, 1.89L may seem an odd amount. Unless you’re in the US, where it equals the perfect half-gallon – the exact size of a growler, or a takeaway beer bottle filled straight from the tap. Now Australians are becoming more familiar with the half-gallon as their favourite craft-beer brewers provide them for people wanting to enjoy their beer at home.

South Australia’s only retail growler outlet can be found at Goodwood Cellars. The bottle shop selects one beer per fortnight to sell in growlers.

“In 2012, we revamped our beer range to push craft, import and unusual beers,” says manager Andrew Clark. “For growlers, we focus on tap beers that aren’t yet available in bottles or cans, allowing people to take home what they’d usually only be able to drink at the bar. Recently, we became the first outlet to offer Little Bang Brewing’s beers to take home, as they launched as keg-only.”

Little Bang Brewing Co's logo.
Little Bang Brewing Co’s logo

Little Bang is an Adelaide microbrewery run by two self-confessed “massive beer nerds” who met while working as video-game designers. They launched last year with just three offerings – Galactopus, an American “barleywine”; Icon, an unfiltered steam ale; and Uncommon Cloud, a farmhouse ale.

It’s handcrafted-with-love beers like these that make growlers a real treat. On a recent trip to Sydney, I visited Marrickville’s Batch Brewing Co, which offers six of its current beers in 1.89L growlers and 640ml bombers.

I recommend the American Pale Ale with Cascade hops, and asking for a sneaky brewery tour – if it’s not too busy, they’d be happy to show you around the tank room. The warehouse-style brewery offers a nice respite from its industrial surrounds.

Depending on the evening you can eat barbecue, crepes or Reuben sandwiches while sampling the beers.

Batch Brewing Co growler: Photo courtesy Batch Brewing Co
Batch Brewing Co growler: Photo courtesy Batch Brewing Co

“We opened the brewery in December 2013,” says Batch’s Andrew Fineran. “We only have one core beer – American Pale Ale. Everything else is limited release. If you visit in March, try our Milk Stout, a nitrogenated beer that pours like a Guinness – it’s perfect for St Patrick’s Day!”

You’ll have to drink that one on the spot, though, as nitrogenated beers can’t be put in growlers.

“Growlers are great because they are reusable and environmentally friendly,” says Fineran. “Patrons bring in their growler to exchange or refill. People want to come back as they have this vessel that connects us and them – it’s an emotional connection.”

Andrew Sydes, general manager of Green Beacon Brewing Company in Brisbane, agrees that growlers offer a special, local experience: “Craft brewers create a wide variety of limited-run products – one-off batches and seasonal releases,” he says.

Photo courtesy Green Beacon Brewing Company
Photo courtesy Green Beacon Brewing Company

“To package all those different lines and manage the supply chain while keeping everything fresh is difficult, so growlers and squealers – the growler’s baby sister, half the size but twice as handy at 950ml – are a great way to fill the gap. Every beer we have on tap at the brewery can be put in a growler, including seasonals and special releases. We always have new brews in the pipeline.”

Something to keep in mind, however: “If unopened and kept cool, growlers are okay for a few weeks,” says Fineran. “But once opened, they should be consumed within a few days. Once you’ve finished the beer, rinse out the bottle with warm water a few times. If you do it immediately after the beer is finished then it should be all good! But if you leave it for a long time out of the refrigerator then it can get nasty and a good, solid hotwater-and-soap clean is necessary.”

Try it yourself

ADELAIDE: Goodwood Cellars
Fills, refills and liquid sanitisers available. 125 Goodwood Rd, Goodwood, SA; goodwoodcellars.com

SYDNEY: Batch Brewing Co
Tasting room hours: Tues 4–8pm; Thu 2–8pm; Fri–Sat 12pm – 8pm. 44 Sydenham Rd, Marrickville, NSW; batchbrewingco.com.au

BRISBANE: Green Beacon Brewing Co
Open seven nights a week, and daily Fri–Sun from 11am. 26 Helen St, Teneriffe, Qld; greenbeacon.com.au

MELBOURNE: Slow Beer
The first retail outlet in Australia to offer keg-only beers in growlers. 468 Bridge Rd Richmond, Vic; slowbeer.com.au

NOTE: This story first appeared in Jetstar Australia’s inflight magazine