The growler (jugs used to transport draft beer) trend is huge. In the last couple of years, two or three beverage establishments specifically focused on growlers have opened in my little neighborhood.
Most growlers are made of glass, but the Portland Growler Company (PGC) is doing its part to get handmade ceramic growlers into the hands of beer aficionados. In today’s post, an excerpt from the January 2015 issue of Ceramics Monthly, our own Forrest Gard shares the story of the PGC and explains the benefits of their sweet ceramic growlers. I thought it was a fun post for a day that often involves imbibing on some sort of alcoholic beverage! Enjoy…and celebrate responsibly! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
As ceramic artists, we put extra value on handmade objects and their makers. And for most of us, this is true in all aspects of our lives. We like to support local economies, use local resources, and eat locally grown food. And many of us even like to drink locally made beer. The Portland Growler Company, in Portland, Oregon, is supplying handmade ceramic growlers for beer enthusiasts. Don’t live in Portland? Don’t worry; these bottles can be shipped to your doorstep and taken to your local brewery no matter where you live.
Benefits of Ceramic Growlers
When starting out, one of the company’s challenges was to get beer drinkers to switch from glass to ceramic growlers. There are several benefits of using a ceramic growler over a glass growler. For one, ceramic is a natural insulator, and the Portland Growler Company’s bottles are cast thick to provide even better insulation. The company and many of their clients claim that once removed from the refrigerator their beer stays cold for a few hours. Another benefit to having a ceramic growler is that clay blocks out light, therefore preventing your beer from becoming skunked. Their growlers have a wide mouth and therefore are easier to clean than typical glass growlers. A porcelain flip-top lid and rubber gasket is used to seal their growler’s wide mouths, which keeps in carbonation longer than a screw top lid.
The Portland Growler Company’s marketing manager, Nicole Curcio explained how the exact form for the growlers came about, “Once they decided to produce growlers, each founding member brought ideas to the table and they critiqued the pros and cons of each design. . . . They already saw the challenge of asking the beer drinkers to make the switch from familiar glass growlers to clay growlers, so they wanted to work within a design that was functional but historically significant and recognizable. The familiar shape that inspired the growlers you see us making today was an old whiskey jug. . . . The next steps in development involved wheel throwing and lathe turning prototypes. These were used to test the effects of subtle line alterations. Through months of deliberation and compromise, the founders finally arrived on a design they could all proudly stand behind.”
The growlers are cast in plaster molds. After coming out of the mold, each growler’s neck is trimmed on the potter’s wheel to round and bevel the edge of the lip to get the greatest amount of surface area touching the gasket, which creates a tighter seal. The individuals who actually make the bottles each have a stamp with their initials and whoever does the finishing touches (trimming the neck, attaching the handle, and cleaning up the bottom before applying the logo) also stamps their initials into the bottom of the vessel, each bottle has these two maker’s marks.
For more information on the Portland Growler Company and to learn more about the people who make the growlers, visit http://portland