It’s no surprise we speak beer here in Oregon. The state has 187 brewing facilities in 63 cities and 85,000 visitors showed up for this year’s Oregon Brewers Festival.
Considering that Lake Oswego is only eight miles from what Oregon Brewers Guild claims is home to more breweries than any other city in the world, it makes sense that local retailers and pubs are looking for ways to satisfy our thirst.
Enter growler stations. Designed to let you bring home the fresh, straight-out-of-the tap taste of local microbrews, stations are popping up around Lake Oswego. You either purchase a growler (in most cases a 64 oz. glass jug) or bring your own, and then pick the brew of your choice to fill your bottle directly from the tap. The cap goes on and you go home with libation for that night’s festivities.
“It’s nice for folks who want to stay in but enjoy a microbrew that’s right out of the tap and usually at a good price,” explains Mark Maher with Maher’s Irish Brew Pub.
In many cases, a growler is the only way to enjoy some microbrews outside of ordering a pint at your local bar. Feckin beers, for example, featured at Maher’s, are not available in bottles so a growler is the only way to enjoy them at home.
The thing to watch out for with growlers is oxidation which can spoil your beer. Maher’s has just installed a new fill method that fills the bottles from the bottom, minimizing the oxygen that can cause things to foam up. Stickmen’s Brewery & Skewery employs the same method. “The key to filling a growler,” Maher explains, “is to fill it all the way to the top and cap it while it’s still bubbling out of the bottle because the more oxygen you have on top of the beverage the more oxygen will seep into the beer.”
The shelf life of a growler depends on the storage conditions and the style of beer. A full growler can stay carbonated for a long time if kept cold and unopened, but Tim Schoenheit with Stickmen’s recommends taking style into consideration too as hop character can fade over time.
To play it safe, Maher suggests drinking the contents of your growler the same day that you bring it home. Sounds like a recommendation most beer lovers can live with!
Here are three places in town where you can fill ‘er up:
Maher’s Irish Brew Pub. 352 B Avenue. 503.880.5608. Features about 15 beers on tap including four to five from Feckin Brewery, some Irish imports and Oregon microbrewers like Good Life and Boneyard out of Bend and Coalition from Southeast Portland. Fill up a 64 oz. growler with Feckin beer for $10; micros for $15 and imports for $17.
Stickmen’s Brewery & Skewery. 40 N. State St. 503.322.4449. It’s called a brewery for a reason–they have a brew system setup here that can crank out 220 gallons of suds in a wide variety of styles to quench your thirst for something new. Try the Beer Flight–five 4 oz. tasters for $9 or order The Rainbow and sample everything! Then fill up your growler with your favorite. Price range for 64 ounces is $13 to $24 with most at $14 to $15. Stickmen’s sells logo growlers or will fill your own, including the smaller 32 ounce sizes at half price.
Lamb’s Nature’s Choice Market. 1377 McVey Avenue. 503.636.2213. As part of their recent makeover to go with their new name, Lamb’s has added a growler station that offers 32 oz. growlettes as well as the traditional 64 oz. size. The growlettes are proving more popular at the moment as shoppers find them the perfect size for trying two different varieties, or including one of Lamb’s ciders in their bottles-to-go. Selections rotate on a regular basis so there is always something new to check out. Prices vary from $5 to $10.99 to fill a growlette and $10 to $21 for 64 ounces. You can bring your own bottles or purchase a growlette for $3; growler for $4.
Has anyone tried beer-to-go? If so, share your experience here.