Why do they call it a growler?

Answered by Robert Golston

The term “growler” is commonly used to refer to a container for , typically a 2-quart galvanized or enameled pail. But have you ever wondered why it's called a growler? Well, there are a few theories behind the origin of this peculiar name.

One theory suggests that the name “growler” comes from the sound that the beer made as it sloshed around inside the container. As carbon dioxide escaped from the beer, it created a growling noise. Imagine the sound of a dog growling, but in a more subtle and fizzy way. This theory seems plausible, as the bubbling and fizzing of carbonation can indeed produce a sound reminiscent of a growl.

Another theory suggests that the term “growler” originated from the practice of beer delivery in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During this time, breweries would send out deliverymen with large containers of beer, often in galvanized pails, to deliver fresh beer directly to customers' homes. The deliverymen would walk or ride their bicycles, and the jostling of the beer during transportation could have caused a growling noise.

Interestingly, the term “growler” was not limited to just beer containers. In fact, it was also used to describe the sound made by the wheels of horse-drawn carriages as they rolled over uneven cobblestone streets. The noise produced by the carriage wheels was said to resemble a growling sound, similar to that of a bear or a lion. This association between the sound of growling and the term “growler” may have influenced its use to describe the beer container.

In terms of personal experiences, I have encountered the term “growler” in various contexts while working in the beer industry. Customers often come into the brewery asking about filling their growlers, referring to their portable containers. It's always interesting to hear the different theories and stories behind the name. Some customers are convinced it's because of the sound, while others believe it stems from the delivery method. Regardless of the origin, the term “growler” has become a widely accepted and recognized term in the beer community.

To sum up, the exact origin of the term “growler” may remain somewhat mysterious, but theories revolving around the sound of carbonation escaping or the beer delivery process provide plausible explanations. Whether it's the growling sound of beer or the rumble of carriage wheels, the name “growler” has certainly left its mark on the beer world.