The origins of the term are as cloudy as a good wheat beer, but here’s the best guess: in the late 19th century in the United States, folks used metal pails to bring home beer from saloons. Said pails were called growlers, perhaps owing to the sound they made when sliding across a bar top. Or maybe it was the sound of bubbles escaping the pail’s lid. “Rushing the growler” meant to run for beer or to get drunk, and “growler mobs” were pretty much what you’d expect.
Today, a growler is any glass (or metal or porcelain) beer vessel, usually with a volume of 32 or 64 ounces. Dallas came a little late to the trend, mostly owing to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s byzantine rules. Just know that you still can’t fill a growler in an establishment that serves mixed drinks, unless it’s a certain type of brewpub. Let’s not bog down with a fuller explanation. Instead, here are the best places in town to rush the growler. You’re on your own in assembling your mob.
Craft and Growler
In November 2012, Kevin Afghani and his wife opened the first store in Dallas dedicated to the growler. They claim to carry the largest selection in the world, and we are not inclined to disagree. You’ll find north of 30 varieties of vessels, with prices ranging from 50 cents (think milk carton) to $150 (handmade porcelain). C&G has 42 taps, each with a beer gun (!) that dispenses carbon dioxide to flush out the nasty oxygen so it doesn’t taint your suds. No one else in town uses such a sophisticated system. About 70 percent of the taps pour Texas beers. The rest come from around the country.
Stacie and Dale Czech opened their tiny store in March. Look around: Stacie built all the furniture and did the decor herself. Then fill up: Dale curates the 36 taps. They pour only Texas beer. He’s a bit fanatical about tracking down new stuff, and you can see what’s flowing and how much remains in the kegs—in real time—with the DigitalPour system on Lakewood’s website. They’re the only folks in town who do that.
Dallas Beer Kitchen
Brought to you by the folks behind the website BestDamnThings, DBK is one of only two independent restaurants in town that does growlers (the other is LUCK). Comestibles include good burgers and sandwiches named after movies (The Fight Club: grilled chicken with cheddar cheese, peppered bacon, lettuce, tomato, and guacamole on grilled Empire Baking Company sourdough spread with house-made basil pesto). Potables include 30 beers, about 10 of which are generally local. The rest come from around the world, with an emphasis on published ratings.
The Bottle Shop
Oh, the bottles of beer on the wall. You’ll find somewhere between 200 and 300, one of the largest selections of any beer store in town. They’ve got a paltry (by comparison) 22 on tap, with a few being local and the rest national and international. Their “house wine” is 512 Pecan Porter. Pro tip: at 7 pm on Mondays, they serve free pizza; Thursdays, free tacos.
The acronym stands for “local urban craft kitchen.” Draw a circle around the joint with a 75-mile radius, and that’s where the beer comes from, 40 taps worth. Six to 10 change every week. So, by all means, go every week. Their shaded, tree-lined patio in Trinity Groves is a great place to experiment, even with beef. From the starters on the upscale menu, try the meat- and cheese-filled pocket pastries called bierocks.
Although we normally don’t cover chains, Whole Foods was the first retail location to sell growlers in Dallas, at its Park Lane store in 2010. Here are the four locations that have bars: Addison’s, with 19 taps, is called the Spirit of ’76 because that’s when Addison went wet; Park Lane’s, with 19 taps, is called The Bar because they apparently didn’t want to work too hard on the name; Highland Park’s, with eight taps, is called Bar Alto because HP is fancy (and because the store is on Lomo Alto Drive); and Lakewood’s, with eight taps, is called Lakewood on Tap because, well, that’ll do. For addresses, please see Google.