Riggers and growlers

Kilderkins and firkins sound like something out of Diagon Alley and the Leakey Cauldron. But they’re really muggle’s inventions for something readers of this column love passionately – beer kegs. Just for the record, in case you didn’t pay attention at school, two firkins (careful how you say that) equal one kilderkin, the good old 18-gallon keg.

But the peculiar beer names don’t stop there. If you’ve visited new Zealand you’ve possibly enjoyed a rigger – but most likely only with a local. As an outsider, how would you know that you can fill your own two-litre bottle with draft ale at the local bottle-o?

Apparently, it’s done in parts of the USA, too, where they call it a growler. But it’s not something I’ve seen in Australia. The idea conjures images of foam all over – as surely self-filled riggers suit New Zealand’s low-gas ales better than our vigorous lagers.

So it’ll be a first for Canberra when the Wig & Pen begins filling take-away two-litre bottles from its ale taps in the near future – probably early in the new year.

Brewer Richard Watkins says it’s all planned, except for the name. Can’t be pinching from the New Zealanders or Americans, can we? Now what might J. K. Rowling call the Aussie growler?

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009

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