Our Growler Program is a little different than other places.
We prefill all of our growlers with a custom 3 head growler filler (we sold 99,128 growlers in 2016 so you can see why we do it this way - read below about how our growler sales have evolved if you're a history buff).
You make a one time purchase for the growler glass ($5) and the beer fill. When you’ve finished your beer, rinse out your growler, bring it back, and we’ll send you home with one that is already filled and ready to go and you only pay the price of the beer fill. Please note, this is not a deposit program, so we do not give money back for empty growlers. If you can’t use your growler anymore, gift it to a friend!
Our prefilled growlers are as fresh as they get and will last unopened for two weeks in the fridge, sometimes more (but they never stick around that long).
Scroll down for the history of our growlers!
Growlers - the Beginning
When Manny Chao and Roger Bialous were just getting their brewery going and word spread about their darn tasty beer, folks started randomly stopping by their location in the old Rainier brewery, wanting to get a growler filled to take home with them.
For a while it was no big deal. But after (almost) exactly 3 years of filling growlers off the tanks whenever someone showed up, Manny and Roger had a custom one-head growler counter pressure filler built by our resident Terry*, put together a 60ft2 retail area and hired Lisa to keep folks from wandering into the keg washing area.
The filler injected the bottles with CO2 to keep the draft beer as fresh as possible. Popularity for the growlers took off, so by 2007 the Retail area was moved down the hall to a larger 300ft2 footprint, and Terry added a second head to the filler. At its peak, we could fill about 60 growlers an hour, and were selling about 1000 growlers per week.
3 heads are better than 1
In 2008, it was clear the brewery had to move (aside from all those growler sales, we were brewing 23 hours a day on a 15 barrel system). A new location was purchased and work started on building the new 60 barrel system. By the time Retail was slated to move into the new location in 2010, it was time to update the growler filler.
Once again, Terry custom built a new filler, this time with 3 heads, giving Retail the capacity to fill about 85 growlers in an hour (currently Retail averages 250-400 per day, but Schamel still holds the record for 747 growlers filled in a single day, btw).
The New Digs
Nowadays our taproom is about 1700 square feet, give or take a cooler, and sells almost 2000 growlers a week (the record for day sales was set Feb 1, 2014 with 1486 growlers, bringing the week total to 3884, if you were curious. Go Hawks!).
While the old 15 barrel system continues to crank out small batch and limited beers in a corner of the brewhouse, the old growler filler is long gone – sold to another brewery, hopefully imparting some of its magic.
So, why so much talk about growlers? A growler seems like a pretty small deal when you talk about a company that has grown past 50,000 barrels of draft beer a year (3.6% of those 50K barrels to be exact). But a growler is the shortest distance between the brewery and the customer.
It started with Manny and Roger, but nowadays, it takes a lot of folks to get that growler into the hands of our customers: the super awesome brewers that make super awesome beer; the Sales guys that get the beer into local bars and restaurants for folks to discover; and the friendly as all get-out Retail folks that make sure you have the freshest beer possible every time you walk in the door. That’s pretty much everyone that works here.
So when you talk about growlers, you are also talking about the history of Georgetown Brewing and all the folks, past and present, that made that growler happen. All 1 million plus** of them (growlers, not employees – that would be quite a bit of turnover).
*What is Terry? Terry is basically if a superhero and McGyver had a kid that was raised by Stephen Hawking in a world made of chocolate and super rad heavy metal music. Terry can do anything.
**that’s an estimate I pulled out of thin air based on an original Ryan number from 2016 (750,000, fyi). He’s a real smarty, so just trust him on this. But he's also too busy to do nerdy calculations for me, so I casually added another 250K because it seemed reasonable to do so. Also, by the time you read this, that number will be bigger again. Because math.