The Growler Prowl: Cheap Beer & Refills!


The Phillips Growler, courtesy of the Liquor Plus Blog

What is a growler?

It’s a big-ass jug of beer. One needs to refill it at either a brewery or a brewpub who sells beer off a tap.

Weighing in at a lean, mean 64 ounces, or 1.89 litres, this much beer works out to about the same as three of the 650ml bottles of craft beer one finds in most shops, particularly your more discerning brew shops.

You’d think this was a newfangled gimmick to get brewski-lovers into the brewers’ digs for purchasing, but it actually extends waaaaaay back into the 1800s. Here’s a concise history of your favourite brew-carrying jug, the mighty-mighty Growler.

For the fiscal-minded fresh-beer lover (which means many of us), this is the way to go… if you’re lucky enough to live in Canada’s per capita microbrew capital, that is.

Okay, let’s talk them dollars’n’cents, keeping in mind that booze is pretty expensive here in El Socialistian Canuckistan-Pacifica.

If you buy a craft beer at its brewer’s shop, you might pay $5.00 here in Victoria, and at a cold beer & wine shop, the same beer would likely ring in between $6.50 and $6.90.

But if you use your growler you likely bought for $5 and get to keep re-using until you drop it on concrete or use it for your extensive penny collection, you can fill that bad-boy up for $10 or so, depending on the brewery. That’s as much as half-off the storebought price for the same beer.

The catch? Carbonation dies in less than 48 hours once you’ve opened the jug. (However, it KEEPS for up to 3+ weeks unopened! Oh, ho. These fellas travel!)

But if you’re watching a game, chilling over a barbecue, or having a beer or three two nights in a row, you’re good.

I know, I know, this all sounds SO GOOD. Not only is it GOOD beer, but it’s FRESH beer, and it’s CHEAP beer. It’s like there’s a heavenly angel singing to you right now, am I right?


WHAT? Not 24/7?! Doh!

But wait, there’s more, and it’s not all good.

First, you have to actually rinse the bottle out after you’re done. You can’t let no yeasty nastiness happen in there. Let it dry completely without a cap on it.

And, worse: These purveyors of beery glee are not open 24/7.

In fact, most of them are only available for jug-filling a few days a week. [gasp]

Just the other day, I cycled over to Phillips Brewery to pick up a new growler for some lager with a couple nights of Chinese food on the menu at home. While I was strapping my growler into my bike bag, I chatted with another beer-acquiring cyclist over the Undying Love of Growlers, and he told me about the great chart below over our chat.

“Intoxicant” is a booze-lover’s news blog/group both found on the web and on Facebook for Victoria-area folk. It’s a great resource for tastings, events, seasonal releases, and more. And also, it seems, a fine place to find out about growler-filling in Victoria. Some beer-loving fiend there did us all the great favour of creating this wonderful table, and I thought it’d be a crime not to give it wider readability, but my hat’s off to Intoxicant for compiling the info for public knowledge.

While I’ve double-checked the times as of this posting, I did so through websites, and we all know how accurate those can be. Still, Driftwood has longer hours posted than the original chart does, and others have changed too. Only Spinnakers, Canoe, and Moon Under Water do not post their growler hours but it tends to be when the pub’s open. Clicking on the beermaker’s names will either take you to their growler info page or the beer breakdown page.

If you’re going out of your way to visit for a growler filling, it’s best to give your chosen destination a call first to make sure what you like’s on tap and they’re open.

And, don’t worry, no one judges you if you’re bringing in 2 or 3 growlers. I mean, it’s the microbrew capital of Canada. It happens.

Brewery Cost of Growler Standard Beer Growler Fillup Open for growler fills
Driftwood $5 $11 ($12/Fat Tug) Tues & Weds: 1-4:30, Thurs & Fri: 2-5:30
Hoyne $5 $10 Wed-Fri: 2-6; Sat 11-6
Phillips $5 $10 Mon 9-5; Tues-Thurs 10-6; Fri 10-7; Sat 11-6
Moon Under Water $5 $10.50-$16 Wed-Sun 11:30-10:30ish
Spinnakers $5 $10-12 Every day 9am-10pm
Vancouver Island Brewery $5 $10 Mon-Sat 10am-6pm
Canoe Brewpub $8 $12 ($13 Seasonal) Every day 11:30am-11pm

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