Why are growler fills so expensive?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by atomic, May 18, 2013.

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  1. KingforaDay

    KingforaDay Defender (665) Aug 5, 2010 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I have a cooler with an empty 32oz and 64oz growler that sits in my car all the time.
  2. socon67

    socon67 Poo-Bah (1,661) Jun 18, 2010 New York

    And yet they sell pints for $6. It appears they just sell their beer at the same price per ounce regardless of size, which is silly.
  3. meb3476

    meb3476 Initiate (193) Apr 1, 2013 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I paid $80 bucks for 3 growlers at Hillfarmstead...sitting down is still difficult.
    MrMcGibblets likes this.
  4. willth

    willth Initiate (0) Apr 2, 2013 Illinois

    What about a discount for growler or howler fills? My local is the same price to buy 4 pints or fill a growler. I could understand why it wouldnt if they wanted u to hang around and eat but they dont have food.
  5. joeebbs

    joeebbs Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2009 Pennsylvania

    In summary:

    Growler fills are more expensive than canned/bottled (12oz that is)
    Growler fills are cheaper than buying a pint of said beer at same establishment

    Basically if you're going to be getting a growler of beer you should get it of something that is either draft-only or rare to come across in cans/bottles. If you're getting a growler of say, Boston Lager, you're doing it wrong.
    terrapinfan88 and jono0101 like this.
  6. jono0101

    jono0101 Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2011 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    i have only ever bought growlers when i am getting from a brewpub, and getting a beer that isnt released in bottles/cans, or if i am planning on sharing with a friend or two that evening, i will be willing to spend an extra dollar or two on some from the source beer that hasnt been sitting in a bottle in a warehouse before being sent out to stores for retail

    some sightings at my regular spot that just started selling growlers of any beer they have on tap (including bud light and michelob golden) a few months ago:

    guys paying $11 for growler fills of michelob golden, then drinking them at a table at the bar (pitcher of same costs $7)
    guy paying $24 for a growler of stone IRS (which is still pretty easily obtained at any bottle shop around here for something like $5.99 for a bomber) + $15 because he didnt already have an empty to fill
    joeebbs likes this.
  7. terrapinfan88

    terrapinfan88 Initiate (0) Nov 15, 2009 Virginia

    Whole foods. Places that get the majority of their revenue from things other than alcohol can afford to have a smaller margin on things like that. Allagash Curieux 17.99 - 19.99 for a 750mL, 18.99 for a growler at whole foods.
  8. joeebbs

    joeebbs Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2009 Pennsylvania

    But I guess I didn't really answer your question of "Why are growler fills so expensive?" but I would say is it's because you're buying it from a bar that is already selling single pints that are more expensive than buying beer in bulk as it is. So the bar is going to charge you either the same amount of 4 pints or give you a little bit of a discount (eg $5 pints usually isn't going to cost you $20 for a growler)

    I think in terms of how much beer you're getting for your dollar goes (this doesn't really take into account rareness of beers but it should be in-line):

    4 pack
    Draft pour
  9. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (968) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    I can't think of any combination of 3 beers from HF that would equal $80. What are you buying there?
  10. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,205) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Premium Member

    Of all the posts made so far, I think the above response is the closest to the correct point/answer being made. If the number-crunching accountants have their say, they'll tell management to charge more for a growler at the pub because the pub has a higher overhead than the bottle/can/keg-producing brewery has. Even if the brewery is in the same building I think the accounting process for each operation will be separate, thus the overhead is calculated separately too. On paper the brewery sells a keg to the brewpub for the same wholesale price that they sell to the distributors. The retailer (pub) has to add the overhead and profit to the price if they want to stay in business.
  11. bctdi

    bctdi Initiate (144) Dec 8, 2008 Georgia

    Growler beer is not draft beer. It's beer that was put into an oxygen filled bottle vs bottled beer from a brewery that was gassed with co2 2 or 3 times a second before filling and then capped on foam which insures no oxygen ingress. Kegs and bottles get filled from the exact same source at breweries. The only thing that may make draft beer better in my mind is freshness which would come mostly from faster turnover, which would typically happen at some of your better beer bars. Most growler places do not turn kegs over as fast as bars unless it's a rare and popular beer. I would bet that if you tried a bottled/canned beer side by side against a draft beer with about the same age on them in a blind taste test you could not consistently tell the difference. So unless you can not get that beer otherwise , and even if it was the same price as bottles, it's not a good buy .
  12. DougC123

    DougC123 Disciple (375) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    As far as how the beer is processed, growler beer is draft beer. As for packaging, growler beer is beer that has come from the keg and gone into the growler. Some places do a purge before filling, but in my experience that is the exception not the rule. Bottled beer is pasturized, keg beer (and by association, growler beer) is not.
  13. emannths

    emannths Aspirant (204) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Most American craft beer is not pasteurized, regardless of the packaging.
  14. bctdi

    bctdi Initiate (144) Dec 8, 2008 Georgia

    If you are getting the bottled beer from a brewery that pasturizes it's beer, then the kegged beer is also pastuerized as well. Most macros pastuerize their beer and some craft brewers as well.
  15. FunkyMacGroovin

    FunkyMacGroovin Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2009 California

    Draft beer costs more money. There's much more waste when dealing with draft vs bottled/canned, and because a business actually has to pay someone to dispense draft beer, the profit margin needs to be higher to make up for that.
  16. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (297) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Location definitely plays a part. I'd be willing to bet that the rent for that gas station on the outskirts of Bend is less than 1/3 of what any bar in Portland is paying. The same folks are opening a growler fill station on 32nd and Hawthorne (some of the most expensive real estate outside the downtown core), so I'm curious to see if they can maintain the same pricing structure here. At $8/growler for RPM they are only making about 30% margin (that's assuming absolutely zero spillage and waste), so they're going to have to sell a shitload of beer in order to keep that place open.
  17. DougC123

    DougC123 Disciple (375) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    Not true, bottles are pasteurized after being filled. I am sticking by the fact that kegs of most domestic beers are not pasteurized. To understand it, look up tunnel pasteurization;

    "Tunnel pasteurization is employed after bottles have been filled and crowned. The bottles are loaded at one end of the pasteurizer and passed under sprays of water as they move along the conveyor. The sprays are so arranged that the bottles are subjected to increasingly hot water until the pasteurization temperature is reached by the beer in the bottles. The bottles are then gradually cooled with water until they are discharged from the end of the pasteurizer."

    Imported kegs usually are because of the transit time.
  18. yountvillewjs

    yountvillewjs Initiate (0) Mar 28, 2013 California

    I thought it was closer to $20, but seeing as how I pretty much only go there when the 15 is on, what do I know? Except that, IMHO, it is by far the best beer they make.
  19. MarshMan71

    MarshMan71 Disciple (377) Jul 17, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    One of the local breweries by me Bent River
    sells $7 growler fills every Monday
    that's a great price and since they only bottle
    3 of their brews its a great way to bring home
    fresh beer that I enjoy and couldn't get any other way.
  20. omniscientcause

    omniscientcause Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2010 District of Columbia
    Beer Trader

    He is counting the cost of the growlers...I paid 36 for 4L of abner the other day. And another 30 for 3 750 ML of ephriam....so idk what hes talking about.
  21. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (968) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Oh yeah, growler cost. That glass can get pricey if you don't bring your own.
  22. pryopen

    pryopen Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2011 South Dakota

    Where you find Ivan on tap in WY? It's one of my all time favorites.

    Feeling lucky about pricing, when
    I lived in Missoula, MT, prices for fills were usually $5-8 and $10-12 for the high gravity one off special releases.
  23. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (5,789) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    The Liquor Shed in Casper held a brewfest and since they have a Growler station, what wasn't drunk at the event, lots, was put on draught. I scored and enjoyed 2 Growlers' worth. :stuck_out_tongue: It was also lower in abv...10.2 vs the 12.2 for the bottles of 2012.
  24. erichall

    erichall Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2008 Kentucky

    My store has 8 taps in a micromatic draft box. We can hold 3 1/2bbls and 5 1/6bbls. Sixth barrels can be drastically more expensive than halves. Certain types of beers have higher yields than others. Sometimes we get a full 10 growlers out of a sixth but more often it is 8-9 and as low as 6. Thus I always price based on 8 fills. For 1/2bbl I price based on 25fills.

    Paying a bit more or a bit less than package is not unusual. It all works out in the end.
  25. pryopen

    pryopen Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2011 South Dakota

    Shoot, I was hoping it was closer to SD, like Gillette. Well congrats on that great find. How'd the lower abv version hold up vs. the bottles.
  26. jpfromb

    jpfromb Initiate (142) Apr 9, 2010 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Just filled two liter bottles of Black Butte XXIV for $14.99 total. Great price! Seems like I paid around $12 or $13 for a 22oz. bottle here in Bend last year.
  27. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (5,789) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I love the bottles but the lower abv from the Growlers won...not near as hot.
  28. bctdi

    bctdi Initiate (144) Dec 8, 2008 Georgia

    This is true, but very few craft brewers pasteurize at all. So if we are talking about craft beer in growlers vs bottles, it's a moot point. Most brewers who do pasteurize are the macros and import macro styles. Kegged beer is pasteurized as well using flash pasteurization prior to filling the vessel. You will find a small handful of craft beer that is pasteurized, maybe anchor , but the vast majority do not at all. But even if it was, you would still be taking co2 protected beer out of a keg, and putting it in an oxygen filled bottle, which you would have to drink all of in one day, at a higher price than the same amount / exact same kind of beer in 6 Co2 gassed individual containers that you could drink at your leisure within a month, and you would not be able to taste the difference in a side by side blind taste test against a kegged beer with about the same age on it. Here's something else too... how old is that keg of beer that you put into your O2 laden growler? You don't know, but you can pick up most craft beer bottles or cans and check the freshness date or code before you buy. At least when you go to a decent beer bar you know that the kegs get turned over about every week or so, and some every few days because there are always 10 or 15 people constantly getting draft beer at a bar. Do you see that many people at the growler station all day long? I don't. To be honest, I don't have a problem with paying a little more for a growler if I can't get that beer otherwise, but I'm not going to pay extra for the beer store's overhead due to them having a tap setup which includes cleaning , co2 , and maintenance for a growler of beer. I mean the cost of the setup is the only thing I can think of that drives the price of growler fills higher than the actual price of a bottled beer.
  29. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (551) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    I don't recall ever seeing anyone doing a thing about pasteurizing their beer, but whatever.
    I haven't seen growler stations at the store yet, so for a brewpub. You are paying for a lot more moving parts and objects with that growler fill than what you pay for that sixer, or bomber at the store. Regardless, you are still dealing with many more parts and people. Many of which are much more expensive than a bartender to keep around. At the distribution level. You're selling pallets. At the tap level. You're selling a pour. slightly different scale of economy. At the packaging level, people routinely hose down the drain the kind of quantity that would make either bar or packy staff get shitcanned.
    I'd still follow the others advice which is the same strategy with a brewpub bought growler. Stick with the stuff that doesn't get released to the larger market. That is, unless you are one of those loons who insists it tastes better on draft and needs it like that.
  30. meb3476

    meb3476 Initiate (193) Apr 1, 2013 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    2 Everett's and a Double Citra...it's a $10 deposit on each growler.
  31. Geuzedad

    Geuzedad Zealot (540) Nov 14, 2010 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    I buy growlers of beer I could not get otherwise to take home for later enjoyment. Unless it is REALLY good and is something I can get bottled (or canned) elsewhere I usually pass on a fill.
  32. SkinniePost

    SkinniePost Initiate (0) Jun 20, 2012 Wisconsin

    Two things that come to mind that differ from kegged beer (growler fills) and bottled beer... At least for small time craft brews... Light contamination, and the ability to more accurately condition a keg than the smaller quantity in a bottle. It is always easier to keep consistency in a larger quantity than a smaller one... That is why oversized wine and champagne bottles are desirable, along with bombers vs. 12 oz. bottles.
  33. mattohara

    mattohara Initiate (0) Dec 8, 2009 New York

    Sunoco up here in upstate NY recently started what they call a Craft Beer Exchange.
    Sunoco Craft Beer Exchange website
    and I have though exactly this same thought. Why pay more for less beer? Here's my rationalization:

    1. Promoting craft and especially local craft is always a good thing. I'll support this with my purchase.
    2. The turnover seems fairly regular, so it's fresh.
    3. The beer is cold, and draft. If I were to get a mix-a-six (which I occasionally do) it would take a while to get cold and I'm often in a hurry to drink. :astonished:
    4. I'll sometimes pay more so I have to do less. Six bottles and caps to deal with is not a lot, but I do enjoy just twisting off the growler cap and filling some glasses, and then rinsing the growler and reusing it.
    5. I can finally use all of my growlers. Also earth-friendly!
    There are some great spots to find beer around here. Wegman's has a mix-a-six that sometimes has some great bargains hidden away, there's a Hess station with a really impressive walk-in cooler, Beers of the World has a huge selection, but when you're on the way out to play some disc golf or on the way home and you stop to get some gas the Sunoco fill is convenient.

    As someone else mentioned, while it's a bit more expensive than cans/bottles, it's a heck of a lot cheaper than going out to a bar. Thrown in the waste factor also mentioned above and I'm totally fine with finally getting to use all 7 of my growlers I've accumulated over the years despite paying a bit more.
  34. Frankinstiener

    Frankinstiener Aspirant (233) Jul 28, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Its really lame that growler fills are so expensive. Two Brothers is closer to my house than many of the liquor stores I frequent. Its cheaper for them to bottle, package, sell to distributor, distributor to mark up and sell to store, and the store to mark up, than it is to fill my growler? I like growlers in theory, but the price makes them nearly useless. The are only good for something that is not going to be bottled.
    atomic likes this.
  35. atomic

    atomic Disciple (332) Sep 22, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    You've summarized my feelings exactly! And more eloquently, well done.
  36. jucifer1818

    jucifer1818 Initiate (0) May 15, 2011 Florida

    because its essentially bar price, only in a larger quantity.

    Hence why I don't buy tap brews in a growler. the only reason too is if the company is in fact, a brewpub, and that the only way to take some home for later
  37. alk3kenny

    alk3kenny Devotee (443) Oct 21, 2004 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    You are paying for the novelty and also often times the Growler stores will have draft only beers so you can enjoy them at home and it's typically still cheaper then the bar.
  38. m4ttj0nes

    m4ttj0nes Aspirant (204) Feb 21, 2012 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    they will sell a shitload of beer no question about that. when i talked to the owner last time i was in bend he was pretty confident about the 2 locations he planned on opening in portland doing extremely well. ill fill my growlers where the pricest are best, and hang out and drink a pint where i enjoy myself most.
  39. loweball727

    loweball727 Aspirant (214) Apr 26, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Where'd you find that?
  40. Stinger80OH

    Stinger80OH Crusader (759) Nov 11, 2011 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Save-on in Mentor...
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