While big-hoss 64 oz. glass growlers are becoming pretty popular among beer lovers, smaller-sized growlers can come in handy, too. I found several shelves' worth of tasty Saranac Pale Ale in 32 oz. growlers on sale for $2.77 a pop at a local Piggly Wiggly last week. It was a killer bargain too sweet to pass up.
Brewed by the F.X. Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, N.Y. — New York state's oldest brewery and the second-oldest brewery in the United States — the Saranac brand features six "core beers" year-round, plus a slew of seasonal treats. The Pale Ale is its most popular beer. In 2005, the company started packaging the Pale Ale and the Saranac Black Forest lager in 32 oz. growler-style bottles. Customers lucky enough to live near the main brewery could even refill the things in person at a discount.
"The growler is a great package size that we're able to offer at a really fun, relaxing time of year," vice president Fred Matt told The Beer Advocate at the time. "The package design is clever; and best of all the beer is terrific. Saranac has always had a very loyal following and this summer we want to do something special for our customers by offering an incentive for them to come visit us."
A coppery amber color, Saranac's Pale Ale is brewed in the classic English style with a blend of Cascade hops (a favorite hop variety among brewers in the American Northwest) and East Kent Golden hops (a flowery variety favored by traditional brewers in the English midlands and London area). Crisp and medium-light in body, it's very drinkable and light. Unlike the sometimes-overly bitter and citrusy American pales, this one features a sweetish hint of butterscotch in the flavor and aroma similar to Bass Ale or Fullers' E.S.B. At a sturdy 5.5 percent alcohol (by volume), it's not so sneakily powerful, either.
The Pig must have stocked a few too many of these hefty vessels, as the original price was around $6.50 a bottle. Two pint glasses worth of smooth, English-style pale ale for under three bucks? I believe I'll be stocking up on more Saranac mini-growlers tomorrow...