THERE'S NO better thing to bring to a holiday gathering than a growler—a jug of (usually) beer that's been filled directly from the tap—and with a crowd to share it, you don't have to worry about polishing off all 64 ounces yourself before it goes bad. Growler fills have long been available from nearly every reputable brewpub in town, but in the past few months a rash of growler stations have popped up in bars and stores, widening the already formidable range of beers you're able to bring home with you. Technology has improved, too, so that growlers stay fresher, longer. And do I need to tell you of the ecological benefits of a container that you can reuse countless times?
Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom, 3090 SE Division
A welcoming new hangout in the former Wild Oats building, and a worthwhile addition to the almost incomprehensibly huge eating and drinking scene on SE Division, Imperial Bottle Shop offers a wide selection of taps and bottles for in-store drinking—check out the whirlpool chiller—or taking home. There are 16 taps from which to fill your growler via beer gun, and the choices (including two ciders) are consistently excellent.
Tin Bucket, 3520 N Williams
"Powered by" a national company called the Growler Station, Tin Bucket is on the cutting edge of growler-filling technology, offering 40 different taps. Their in-house growlers have special caps to prevent oxygenation, and are filled via a nifty counter-pressure system that ensures the longevity and freshness of the beer.
NW Growlers, 6141 SW Macadam
NW Growlers opened earlier this year in a strip mall on Macadam. Aside from selling on-premise pints, they boast an impressive 30 different taps from which you can fill up your growler—including a couple gluten-free choices. The offerings are slanted to those from the Pacific Northwest, and run the gamut from crowd-pleasing favorites to rarities from excellent Portland breweries such the Commons and Occidental.
Hollywood Beverage, 3028 NE Sandy
In liquor stores in other parts of the country, it's not so unusual to find beer and wine sharing shelf space with the hard stuff, but in Portland it still feels a little odd—in a very good way. The new and improved Hollywood Beverage has every kind of alcoholic libation you could ask for, including lots of taps to fill up your growler. Right now on their 12 taps they offer five beers, two ciders, three wines, and two taps of kombucha, and are hoping to add a further eight taps this week. And they have great prices, including a solid deal on a growler of Old Town IPA for $8.95 (when it's in stock). Plus, they're open 'til 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
39th Mini Mart, 935 SE César E. Chávez
This convenience store has always had a shockingly large selection of beer, and now the mini-mart—located handily across the street from the SE Belmont library—has added growler fills to the mix as well. They've got 12 taps to choose from, decently priced at around 10 bucks, and it's also super easy to pick up milk, or smokes, or chips, or whatever else you may have forgotten on your way to the party.
Zupan's, 3301 SE Belmont
The Belmont outpost of upscale food mart Zupan's has six taps of beers to choose from. Check their site for what's flowing, but the choices are usually uncommon, and in some cases extremely rare (although sometimes they're priced to match).