Beer, the time honored tradition and testament to physical activity, outdoor work, and outdoor play. However lugging along a 32 pack of bottles to your favorite 3 mile walk-in site on the sandy bluffs overlooking the Pacific does not sound like the best idea to most people. Not to mention if you live in a state (ahem, California) that places a Mexico-style, per bottle/can, refundable recycling tax on each bottle. However, there is a better way that will allow you to drink good local craft beer while camping, but without the extra weight and without the bottle tax, and it is called a growler.
If you live in a city with a decent sized population you likely live near at least one local craft/micro brewery that produces beer that is far better than Budweiser (no offense if you happen to like Bud, its just not my beer of choice). Most of these breweries will sell you what is called a Growler by the beer pros. A growler is a half-gallon of beer sold in the brewery’s own large jug. Often you will pay extra for the first fill to cover the cost of the jug, but each subsequent refill is just at the cost of the beer, which is usually at a reduced price over buying it by the pint in their fine establishment.
The benefit of camping with growlers, especially at walk-in sites or pack-in/pack-out sites, is that you can carry a larger amount of beer with less weight, hassle, and at a lesser cost. I have found that growlers to be so much easier to deal with when camping and save so much money that I will only bring these when camping from now on, and not to mention the environmental benefits of not using all of those bottles and cans.
One of the questions that you may be asking yourself is how do you keep the growler cold while camping. That is a fair question, and the answer comes in two words: Growler Cooler. Growler Coolers come in a few varieties, and most craft/micro breweries sell their own branded growler coolers too. The most common growler coolers are ones where the bottle is zippered in from the top and is completely insulated from the elements similar to this one:
However, there are also some other varieties that cover most of the bottle, but not the neck of the jug, such as this one:
And then there are the ultimate double growler coolers, which I have never personally used, but am interested in trying out:
Regardless of what type of growler cooler you may have, the best way to keep your growlers cool is to rotate them into the ice chest that you are keeping your food in (if you are camping with an ice chest). In fact, if I am camping with a cooler and growlers, I will often rotate my growlers between my growler carriers and the cooler prior to drinking from them. In the end the growler cooler may not even be required if you have enough room in your food cooler.
Remember kids, drinking beer is great, drinking cold beer on the cheap without breaking your back is legendary!