Get Your Fill: Living the Growler Lifestyle

Long ago, before bottled beer could be purchased at a supermarket–heck, before supermarkets–some clever folks decided they didn’t want to be limited to drinking beer in pubs. After all, enjoying a pint at the bar is fine, but getting home to your family and enjoying a beer with your home-cooked meal is pretty epic, too. So they decided to have additional pints poured into a container (usually a metal pail back then) they could then take home and enjoy. My own grandfather told me his father used to send him to the local pub with a coffee can and the instructions: “Not too much foam.” (Dad must have had a pretty good fake ID.) It’s been a while since the days of filling any old container with draft beer. Somewhere along the way, the word “growler” became common terminology for a glass jug in which to carry home draft beer from a local brewery.

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If you have a collection of growlers from different breweries encroaching on your living space, you are already familiar with the benefits of these wondrous vessels. They give you access to fresh, sometimes rare beer from a small brewery in the comfort of your home, allow you to share beer with people, and help reduce waste and your impact on the environment. One- and two-liter; 64-, 40-, and 32-ounce, glass, ceramic, stainless steel and vacuum-insulated growlers come in a multitude of shapes and sizes nowadays. These options vary from brewery to brewery, as do house policies on what types of growlers they’ll fill.

In order to guide our fans towards enjoying the freshest beer possible with the greatest of ease, the Great Gargoyle has presented us with the following Growler Commandments:

  • Thou shalt bring thy growler in clean and worthy of holding great craft beer.
  • Thou shalt comply with California ABC (Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) labeling laws.
  • Thou shalt keep thy growler refrigerated. (Although insulated growlers will stay cold for 24 hours.)
  • Thou shalt open thy growler within 7-10 days of purchase.
  • Thou shalt consume thy beer within 24 hours of opening the growler, or risk significant carbonation loss.
  • Thou shalt not consume growlers in the patio or gardens, or in public in general (just lookin’ out for you!)

In many states, breweries can legally fill any growler with their beer, even if someone else’s logo is on the container. Our home state is a very special place. Things are a bit more complicated when it comes to getting your growler filled at multiple California breweries. Basically, any brewery’s name on the growler has to correspond to the maker of the beer inside it. But this labeling can potentially be removed or obscured, and blank growlers are also available from many manufacturers. Many breweries have house rules that can sometimes seem to contradict or limit your freedom (#Murica!), but these ultimately exist to a) ensure that the brewery is not in danger of a potential violation, and b) ensure the quality of the beer and the brewery’s reputation.

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If you are unsure whether that new brewery down the road will fill the type of growler you have, just call them. There’s also this extremely thorough spreadsheet that is constantly being updated. If you educate yourself beforehand, you won’t be turned away due to a house rule. Our non-branded growlers (meaning they don’t say “Stone Brewing Co.” but they do say “FRESH BEER,” making them a little more snazzy than a blank vessel) can legally be filled anywhere, but it is up to each brewery (including us) to decide which types of growlers we prefer to fill and how they may be potentially modified with a covering. We want you to be able to fill your growlers at other breweries, even if you purchased the growler at Stone–that’s why we started offering non-branded varieties. When it comes down to it, we’re in the business of selling beer, not Stone growlers. For now, I’m here to help illuminate and clarify the nature of Stone’s own house policy, but remember other breweries’ policies vary.

First of all, growlers are take-home containers. Buying a growler and opening it anywhere but a private residence or a BYOB is an open container violation–ergo, illegal. Growlers may not be consumed on the patio or in the gardens at any Stone location…ever! This is pretty much true anywhere in the country, except maybe Nevada, where you can get away with just about anything.

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Whose House Policy? OUR House Policy!

If you bought your growler at a Stone location, great! You can fill it at any Stone Company Store as well as Stone Farms and the Stone Brewing TapRoom near Petco Park. In order to fill a growler that wasn’t purchased from Stone, it must fit the following parameters:

  • It must be made of brown glass or an opaque material (e.g., stainless steel or ceramic).
  • It must have a swing-top lid with a rubber gasket. The very popular brown glass 64-ounce screw-top growlers you’ve probably seen around town are economical but don’t hold carbonation as well.
  • It must be blank* or have no other brewery’s information on it. Anything that isn’t beer-related is fine, so if your name is Dave and you have a growler that says “DAVE” on it, that’s OK (and awesome). We also sell non-Stone-branded growlers that say “FRESH BEER.”
  • If it has any other brewery’s information on it, that must be permanently obscured or removed. Our Store Crew has the ultimate discretion on what constitutes a classy covering. Sorry, no duct tape.
  • It must be one of the following volumes: one-liter, two-liter, 32-ounce, 40-ounce, or 64-ounce.
  • It must be in good condition (i.e., not broken, damaged, or with a faulty seal).
  • It must be clean!

* NOTE: There’s one tricky exception to this rule. We currently offer 40-ounce insulated growlers made by a company called Hydroflask. With either our brewery’s name or “FRESH BEER” printed on them, it is clear that they are growlers containing an alcoholic beverage. However, we cannot fill blank 40-ounce Hydroflasks, because there is too much of a risk for confusion with a regular water bottle. We want to make sure we are not enabling lawbreaking or creating illegal situations like public or covert consumption of beer. Remember that the Store Crew has the ultimate discretion in what we can and cannot fill. Here’s our house policy in more concise wording, as well.

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Caring for your Collection

Say it with me (yet again): Thou shalt bring your growler in CLEAN and worthy of holding great craft beer. While we might be able to give your growler a quick rinse to take out any dust, we may not always have time to do so when we are simultaneously fulfilling a dozen growler orders. (Especially at our Escondido home-base on Saturdays when our fans are packed in like sardines…albeit sardines with really good taste in beer!) If your growler is already clean but you are worried about dust, just rinse it before you leave the house. What we most certainly cannot do is clean out a growler that was never rinsed and has developed sour, funky beer residue and odor.

If you hate doing dishes, I’m right there with you. Luckily, growlers are REALLY EASY TO CLEAN! All they require is a few rinses with hot water, and the best time to do this is right after you pour out the last drop of beer. If the beer residue in the growler dries, the growler will be much harder to clean and will develop scum. DO NOT use detergent, bleach, or any chemicals or cleaners as this can be very hard to completely rinse out and will ruin the head retention of your beer or affect the flavor. Be on top of it and you will be rewarded with beer that is fresh-tasting and attractive-looking.

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Wait. This all seems complicated. Why do I want a growler again?!

Let’s go over the benefits:

  • You get access to fresh draft beer from a local brewery. This might mean a really fresh batch of a year-round beer like Stone IPA, or it might mean a super-rare beer that isn’t bottled at all (2013 Stone Old Guardian OAK-SMOKED Barley Wine w/French & American Oak, anyone?). It also means you get to go to a tasting room to get it, which is way more fun than going to a grocery store, and you definitely won’t leave with a box of Hot Pockets or priced-to-move brownie bites you bought for no discernible reason other than you were shopping while hungry. You also have access to a wider variety of beers than at a grocery store, and you get to support a local brewery, beers from which might not be available in any stores.
  • You reduce your waste and impact on the environment. Draft beer is served out of reusable containers (kegs) into reusable containers (growlers). This means there is no environmental impact from the manufacturing of other packaging, like cardboard, bottles and transportation of materials. The toll on the environment is even less if you have a brewery within walking or biking distance!
  • You’ve got multiple sizes and types of containers to choose from! Are you livin’ the single life and can’t really put down two-liters of beer in a day? We have one-liter growlers for that! Do you have a beer-loving significant other or a lot of friends you need to share your craft beer with? Get a two-liter and spread the love! Do you like to go camping or take beer on long journeys sans refrigeration? Insulated stainless steel growlers were made for your lifestyle!

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Once you’ve decided which type of growler is best for you, next comes another difficult conundrum–what beer to take home inside it?! Our Stone Company Stores will always have year-round offerings available in addition to Stone specialty beers that vary by location. Our fill schedule is available for perusal online here, or you can let us keep you up-to-date by subscribing to our weekly growler fill update email. Once a beer is tapped, it will be on tap until it runs out. We can’t guarantee that some of the more coveted beers will last, so always call ahead to make sure we still have the beer you desire. We’ll see you soon at a Stone Company Store near you, or maybe at another brewery tasting room altogether!

Hitting the Ground Drinking: Stone’s 2015 Event Calendar

It’s obvious how excited we are for 2015, given we’ve planned out most of our events. Actually, it’s those events that have led to the lion’s share of our anticipatory spirit. Take a look at the list of happenings below and you’ll get it. We’ve breaking down those events with all of the beer, food, knowledge and amusing shenanigans we could pack into a year. Of course it’s a work in progress. After all, we live in San Diego where beer reigns supreme and events seem to pop out of the ground on an hourly basis. We’ll surely have no shortage of pleasant pop-up events, but these are some of the best that you can bank on and calendar for. Prepare yourself for a jam-packed 2015, and we’ll do the same.

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Barrel Aging, Part 4: Brewing Beers for Barrels

Over the past year, our Research and Small Batch Manager Steve Gonzalez has fielded questions from curious beer fans and homebrewers on the topic of barrel-aging and Stone’s wood program. In addition to one last batch of his responses, we’re also offering up a cool video spotlighting our Small Batch Brewing Team. They are passionate people with a wealth of experience that, as exemplified by this four-part blog series, is as refined as the beers their expert techniques produce. Get a glimpse of what makes these folks so awesome then take in one last burst of barrel-aging knowledge.

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Home Run: Stone Beer at the Ballpark

The lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” evoke memories of sunny days, the scent of fresh-cut grass and the sharp crack of pine making forceful contact with a small, red-stitched orb. There’s nothing quite like baseball season. America’s Pastime stirs the souls and passions of people from all walks of life—young to old, blue collar to white collar, West Coast to East Coast. It also appeals to both craft beer fans and people who don’t give a rip what they swig while they take in the boys of summer, so long as it’s ice cold, triple-hopped, cold-filtered or [insert lame, meaningless macro-beer company's Madison Avenue-developed buzz term here]. For so long, those enthusiastic about quality beer and baseball had to forgo the former when enjoying the latter, which makes us all the happier that, this year, we were able to debut a number of ballpark craft beer options for those seeking ales of substance in our hometown. This is a major accomplishment that comes after many years of hard work and negotiation to gain access to the prestigious Petco Park. Check out our new locations then visit them the next time you take in a San Diego Padres game.

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All Aboard: Team Stone Orientation

Even in the exciting brewing industry, starting a new job is a little daunting. Like any job, all the new people and pre-established dynamics can be tough to get a grip on…and then there’s all the work that has to be done on top of that. But add in the hundreds of new people and 18 years of pre-established liquid lore and well-documented ideologies associated with Stone Brewing Co., and it makes for a few abdominal butterflies. Even coming from a smaller but plenty reputable brewing company (well, two, technically, having worked for two brands under one roof, Port Brewing Co. and The Lost Abbey), this was a formidable new career undertaking to say the least. Thank goodness for what may possibly be the best employee orientation in the world—or at least the brewing industry.

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#PairedWith: Stone Saison

Few, if any beer styles offer such a wide-ranging array of flavors as saison. Alternately referred to as “farmhouse ales” for the French and Belgian rural structures in which the style originated, no two taste the same, and therein lies the glory of the saison. Anything goes…and we like that! Tangy, earthy, peppery, herbaceous, floral, spicy and fruity are among the numerous descriptors that can accompany this rangy beer style. So, when conceptualizing our new Stone Saison, we were essentially able to go in any direction we wanted. It seemed only right to bottle up a Belgian-style beer that, while different from most of the incredibly hoppy offerings we’re known for, clearly embodied who we are; something 100% Stone! It was a tall order, but one sip is all it’ll take to show fans why we think we came through with flying colors.

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Farm to Fork: Stone's Farm-to-Tableism

Stone has some pretty strict philosophies when it comes to food. We stand by local and organically cultivated ingredients because we know they’re better for the environment, and they taste pretty darn good, too. You can get amazing items prepared with truly farm-to-table ingredients every day at our three Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens locations, but there are a few nights out of the year where we take it to the next level of freshitude—Fresh Dinners. These feasts are made solely from ingredients procured the very same day, and some of those ingredients come from our very own Stone Farms.

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Stone Farms' Solid Roots Exposed

In 2010, we caught wind that a vital business in our hometown of Escondido, California was in a world of hurt. That struggling institution was a 19-acre farm called La Milpa Organica from which we sourced some of the ingredients used to craft our pan-global cuisine at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Escondido. Despite valiant efforts and a ton of elbow grease, La Milpa Organica went out of business by year’s end. As supporters of the farm-to-table movement and proud advocates for our corner of the world, we took advantage of the fact that we had the resources to do something to keep a center for organic farming in Escondido alive. So, rather than bemoan the loss of something good, in March of 2011, we went outside our craft beer box, took over the farmland, then proceeded to stand there, pitchforks in hand a la American Gothic with an OK-now-what look on our faces. Such was the beginning of life on Stone Farms.


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Give Us Liberty (& Give Us Beer)!: Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station

They say good things come to those who wait. Fermentation has proven this true for us time and time again; however, we are, at our core, pretty darn impatient. We have grand aspirations and want to push the craft beer envelope by providing new ways for people to experience hand-crafted ales and lagers. Grand aspirations require grand gestures. Grand gestures take grand effort. Grand effort mandates a boatload of time, and that equates to a whole lot of waiting for our grand aspirations to be forged into reality. Never has this been truer than in the case of construction of our second farm-to-table restaurant, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. It took us years to take it from the grand aspiration phase to the tangible and absolutely magnificent (if we do say so ourselves, and we just did) brick-and-mortar bastion of good beer and quality cuisine it’s become. The waiting was the hardest part, but, once again, it was all worth it. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station is open for business and Worthy all of the hard work it took to get it to that point. Allow us to show you around…

The main dining room at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station

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Dogfish Head, Victory, and Stone get BUFF… again.

Remember when we came out with that badass collaboration beer? What’s that? Oh, which one, you ask? Yes, of course. We should be more specific, as they’ve all been pretty unbelievable. (And we’re totally allowed to brag this hard because there were other brilliant brewers involved, so please consider this our way of supremely complimenting them… while giving ourselves just a little pat on the back.)

Annnnnnyway, so as you may recall, in 2010, we released Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du BUFF, a hellaciously herbaceous beer that we–and countless others–fell in love with instantly.

Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du BUFF is back at long last! But it won't last long.

Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du BUFF is back at long last! But it won’t last long.

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