By midafternoon on a recent Saturday, Bierkraft, the beer emporium and grocery on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, was half-filled with customers, many of them parents with babies or toddlers in tow. They were browsing the more than 1,000 varieties of bottled beer or surveying the listing of selections available on the 13 taps and 3 cask lines. Some carried a good-sized satchel.
Diaper bag? Gym clothes?
No. It was a tote for their growlers.
Growlers — 64-ounce glass vessels that look like a moonshine jug — have become the beer accessory of the moment. And the jugs, filled at taps in bars and stores, are not just the toys of the bearded, flannel-shirt, beer-geek set.
The painful truth is that Floridians can't enjoy fresh-from-the-tap beer at home, unless it's from a larger operation that bottles its product (or cans it - had a Dale's Pale Ale lately?), because the state limits retail beer containers to 32 ounces and growlers hold a full gallon. But beer lovers in the Sunshine State have grown accustomed to this sort of disappointment; you'd be hard-pressed to find many brewing establishments at all 'round these parts. Just look at the tragicly brief list of breweries on this here peninsula and compare it with the litany of options in, say, lager-lovin' California or perhaps that hops haven we call Colorado.
So, when we have a beer event it's kind of like the second coming ("You mean to say they're bringing the beer TO US?!"), and several shindigs are happening in the coming months. This weekend, Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter will turn into a Field of Hops, when the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival will offer samples from more than 100 breweries as well as a beer tasting and pairing event. A handful of the showcased breweries are from our home state, and God bless 'em for choosing to brew suds rather than squeeze orange juice.