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JP’s Food Adventures: Where to Fill Your Growler

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Photo by Cynthia Lamb.

Before prohibition, people who wanted to drink beer at home just went to the corner watering hole and got a bucket of tap beer to go. Those days are long gone. Bottles and cans are now the norm for home beer consumption, but they’re not the only option.

Beer lovers here on the LES can enjoy “old being new again” by using a growler, a refillable half gallon glass bottle. They tend to cost about four bucks for the growler itself, with refills varying in price depending on what beer you choose and where you buy it.

Figure ten bucks or so for four pints of good tap beer, and the growler’s not a bad deal. While you can’t just walk into your favorite bar and ask them to fill it for you, we have a few good options for tap beer to go here in the neighborhood.

New Beer Distributors (167 Chrystie St, just north of Delancey) has been selling and filling growlers for years. Their pricing can be very good, with some more upscale brews as low as $8 a fill. In addition they have a great selection of beer in bottles and cans, including some hard to find examples. (Lambic and cider fans can find satisfaction here, as can those fond of Belgian style brews). Some may find their hours, 9AM-6PM, Mon through Saturday a little inconvenient, but their prices and selection puts them on the map for neighborhood beer lovers.

Whole Foods (corner of Bowery and Houston) is in on the act as well. In addition to sporting a serious beer selection they, too, sell and refill growlers. Like New Beer, they carry Ithaca Beer Company brews, noteworthy in that they use local NY State grain in their beer making. Unlike New Beer they’re open until 11PM, making a weeknight growler refill more likely.

The award for Most Convenient Growler Refilling Hours in the Neighborhood probably has to go to Canal Street Newsstand (52 Canal St, corner of Orchard). They’re open late, making them my stepsons’ favorite choice. Because when the growler is empty at 11:30, and the evening isn’t yet over, the newsstand has them covered.They often have a variety of Six Point Brewery beer on tap for $10 a fill, with some specialty beers (such as barley wines) going for as much as $15. I like the idea of a newsstand with a couple kegs at the ready. Might need something to take the sting out of this week’s issue of the Economist.

While four pints of beer is unlikely to go very far at your holiday get together, the growler is a practical size for the casual beer drinker. Sixty-four ounces is enough to share with a companion, or to last one a couple days. And it’s fresher (and often cheaper) than buying individual bottles or cans. So here’s to the growler: one more thing possibly worthy of making room for in your apartment.

JP Bowersock is a professional musician and music producer who has toured the world repeatedly, eating at top restaurants and hole-in-the-wall joints. He is a serious home cook with over two decades’ experience cooking for family, friends and fellow rock and rollers. Mr Bowersock keeps a toe in the wine business as well,  consulting for the wine lists of several neighborhood establishments, including Clandestino, 35 Canal St. When not on tour or in the recording studio he’s scouring the neighborhood for frugal food finds.


With Champagne in the $50 a bottle range for respectable examples we’ve seen people increasingly turning to alternative sparklers such as Prosecco and Cava. While Champagne drinkers will tell you these other sparklers are no substitute for Champagne (they do not taste the same), to many bubbly is bubbly, and a decent bottle under $20 is a good find. The Cava from Juve & Champs, available at Seward Park Liquors, is a good example. Dry, elegant and somewhat nuanced, this would make a great holiday toast that doesn’t break the bank.

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