Monday, September 11, 2006

The Daily Hump: Growler

Bierkraft is an amazing little store near my house with an enormous selection of beers and cheeses from all over the world. One of the great things about the place is that you can purchase half-gallon jugs, aka growlers, of whatever beer the store has on tap. Growlers can be found at breweries and high-end beer shops around the country. The obvious question--why are these jugs called growlers?

Modern Drunkard Magazine Online (MDMO) has one hypothesis:
In pre-Prohibition times it was common for fathers to dispatch their progeny to the saloon with a growler to collect beer, and it was probably named for the growling sound a metal bucket full of beer makes when pushed across a bar top. The once popular term rushing the growler meant a hurried beer run—beer in a bucket tends to lose its head rather quickly and dad probably preferred it didn’t.
Per the OED, the earliest written reference to growler (in the above sense) was in an 1888 New York Herald article:
The employment by hands in a number of factories of boys and girls, under ten and thirteen years, to fetch beer for them, or in other words to rush the growler.
Although the OED corroborates the MDMO genesis of rush the growler, it does not add any additional insight into the etymology of growler itself. Thus, I rule MDMO's onomatopoeiac explanation of growler's etymology wins by default.

growler [OED]


:: posted by David, 8:14 AM


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