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Idaho Beer Lovers Have Been 'Growling' for Decades (and Have Grand Teton Brewing to Thank)

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Otto Brothers Brewing - GRAND TETON BREWING
  • Grand Teton Brewing
  • Otto Brothers Brewing

Beer lovers across the globe should toast Idaho's own Grand Teton Brewing for the wildly popular American innovation known as the growler.

1930s era growleer - GRAND TETON BREWING
  • Grand Teton Brewing
  • 1930s era growleer

"Actually, the story goes all the way back to Austria," Operations Director Chris Furbacher told BW from his brewery's headquarters in Victor. "Our founder, Charlie Otto, actually found an old growler in his father's attic. Charlie's dad used to fill up small metal pails at a local tavern and bring home fresh beer for his father. The lid on the pail would rattle from CO2 release, so that's why they called it a growler. It growled. That's how they used to package beef to bring home. Well, Charlie thought that was a brilliant idea."

Fast forward to the 1990s, when Charlie and his brother began Otto Brothers Brewing, which ultimately became Grand Teton. In 1998, Charlie took a large glass jug, typically used to bottle apple cider, had the Grand Teton logo silk-screened on the outside and convinced local liquor stores to install a draft system so they could fill the redesigned growlers for customers.

GRAND TETON BREWING
  • Grand Teton Brewing
GRAND TETON BREWING
  • Grand Teton Brewing

"No, he didn't trademark it," said Furbacher with a laugh. "That's a good thing for the general consumer, maybe not so great for Charlie. He just thought it was a great, sustainable idea."

Now, there are glass, ceramic and stainless steel growlers the world over.

"And have you heard of the Crowler?" asked Furbacher. "That's a 32-ounce beer can, sealed at the brewery or bar. In your neck of the woods, Barbarian Brewing does that on site. But as far as the history of the growler? Yup, that's us. I can't tell you how many thousands of breweries are using the growler these days."

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