If you aren't already familiar with growlers--the two-liter fill-to-go bottles--the advent of summer is as good a time as any to get on board. Growlers can be filled at breweries and bottle shops around the city and enjoyed at home, at the campground, or brought to backyard cookouts and parties. I keep a growler in the trunk of my car at all times--alongside a car jack, flashlight, and first-aid kit. It's as important in some ways, because around here you'll often find yourself in proximity to good beer. And for about $8, you can fill 'er up and be on your way.
Growlers are glass bottles sealed with a screw-on cap or hinged porcelain gasket cap. They usually hold two liters of beer, about a ½ gallon or just over four pints. Sealed tightly, the beer will stay fresh for about a week in the fridge. Once opened, however, the beer will go flat in about a day. The term "growler" is said to date to the late 1800s, when beer was carried home from pubs in metal buckets (to-go beer isn't a new thing after all). Apparently, as the beer sloshed around, the gas escaped out the bucket's lid and made a sound like a growl. Alternately, the name "growler" is said to be named for the buckets of beer once given to factory workers before their stomachs began to "growl" from hunger.
The ubiquitous growler bottle found today was introduced by Otto Brother's Brewing Company in Wyoming in the late 1980s. It looks kind of like a moonshine bottle, and comes in clear or brown glass. Most breweries sell growlers onsite (in case you forgot yours) for about $6. These are usually branded with the brewery's logo. Some breweries and bottle shops also sell the deluxe growler model pictured above, or you can buy them online for around $30.
Keeping your beer cold is important if you aren't taking your growler home right away. For the standard growler bottle, you can buy neoprene cozies or insulated carrying cases at some shops or online at KegWorks.
Around the city, it's easy to find a brewery or bottle shop to fill your growler. Most charge $8-$10 per fill, and some offer frequent-customer punch cards. Imperial beers or other high-octane brews may cost a bit more, but if it's something not usually available in a bottle, it's great to be able to get it to go. Places like Bottleworks, Super Deli Mart and The Beer Authority are well-known for tapping unusual beers and offering growler fills (follow @beerauthority on Twitter for tap updates). Breweries like Maritime Pacific, Two Beers, and Pike Brewing are great places to fill up after work.
If you are on the Eastside, check out Black Raven and Mac & Jack's. And if you're on your way to or from the ferry dock, you can fill at Diamond Knot Brewery in Mukilteo (also a good place to fill your belly), American Brewing or Gallagher's in Edmonds, or Hood Canal Brewery in Kingston.
Already have a growler? Where do you fill 'er up?