Do you Tip for Growler Fills?

A few weeks back I read an article about Everything You Didn’t Know About Tipping. It didn’t have that much that I didn’t know about tipping but did bring a few insights. Then yesterday I was at a brewery getting a growler filled and found myself thinking, should you tip for growler fills?

First off if you’re asking what a growler is then check out BeerQuest ABV’s excellent post on the history of growlers. Now back to my situation at MadTree. In a hurry, I bypassed Googling the subject from my phone and figured $1 was good. After I had gotten to my friend’s house I put the question on Facebook and Twitter.

What Say Ye All

The consensus is vague as most people get a pint or two along with the growler. Next to that it seems either $1 or $2 is common. Then a few people tip based on a percentage of cost. I reached out to a few bartenders at bars or tap rooms. Here’s what Patrick Woods, brewer, cellar master, and occasional tap room bartender at Rivertown Brewery had to say:

When asking him and other beertenders what they thought they should get for growler fills most said that $1 to $2 was fine. If you instead look at it from a standard percentage of 15%, then this $1 or $2 range is often the same as a 15% tip. Most growler fills are $10 for the fill, so 15% is $1.50.

Knowledge = Tips

The big thing to consider here that many voiced concern on is if you just walk in and know exactly what you want to order or get some tasters and discussing the brews with the bartender. The more effort that the folks behind the bar go through to get you a growler fill you’re happy with means the more you should tip them. If they pour you four samples and describe the hop nuances of one vs. the malt profile of another, you need to reward them for that with a tip.

 What About Stores?

Something else many brought up is non-bar/brewery growler fills. I know not all states allow this, but Cincinnati has many grocery and liquor stores with taps to fill a growler o. Everyone seemed quite clear that they don’t tip at the store and only at the bar/brewery. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Folks at a store are bringing in a significant amount of more money on their regular paycheck without the need for tips while bartenders get a meager amount in their check leaving their livelihood to depend on tips. It’s just the way almost every bar in America structures their pay scale.
  2. Stores aren’t structured for a tip system. The receipts don’t have a line for tips, and I can’t recall seeing a tip jar on a counter at any stores.

For me, the bottom line here is that if someone at a store goes above and beyond doing a growler fill give them a buck or two. More importantly, let the manager know what an awesome employee they have; good odds that kind of compliment could lead to a raise that will mean a lot more in the long run than your $1 tip.

Speak Your Piece

Now have your say and let us know if you tip or not and if so how much. Do you go by percent? Just $1 for 32 oz. or $2 for a 64 oz. fill? Do you not tip for growler fills at all?? Also, anyone out there who has ever filled a growler, please speak up and let us know what you think.

6 thoughts on “Do you Tip for Growler Fills?”

  1. As a frequent guest of the Jungle Jims growler bar… I ALWAYS tip the bartenders. Yes, they make a bit more than typical bartenders, no the tip jar is hidden in the back, no there isn’t a tip line on the receipt… But I tip for the service, and I tip because they help me out and don’t tell my wife how many growlers I buy. If it was self service growler filling, it might be different.

    Jungle Jim’s is set up a lot like a bar, though… So it might be different than some gas stations or other grocery set-ups.

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    1. In a perfect world, I agree with you. The cost of the product should rise, the employee should get a higher wage and the world should move on. That is not the reality, though. The reality is that most bartenders make a little over $2 an hour and rely on the tips to live. Not offering a tip for their services is not only rude but cruel.

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  2. Good thoughts. I would say mimimum $1 tip.
    Another one I never thought of untill I was drinking a beer with some battenders during the holiday season on the day of a bottle release. Buying bottles and merchandize at a brewery. The bartenders have to run and get all of it and most times they do not get a tip. In this case, I am not sure if % is the right form, but at least $1-2 seems fair based on number of items purchased.

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  3. Man do I struggle with this. I’m a heavy tipper generally, but it’s so awkward at some of the growler shops.

    The one I visit most often is just a counter with no bar area. I almost always know what I want. They typically aren’t cheap – I could order a growler and pint for a $25 tab… and then I’d tip $5.

    I scaled that back to the $2 on a growler range over time, but it’s still strange to put down so little on that size tab.

    At the same time, you could make an argument for not tipping at all (in my case anyway – I’m not getting samples and asking a bunch of questions). It’s essentially a Chipotle with less work for the employee. It’s one short hop away from a self serve slurpee machine.

    It also doesn’t include the social aspect of sitting at a bar and being waited on by a bartender.

    I will of course continue to tip because it’s a local business and the employees rely on tips, but these new growler counters are a grey area.

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  4. In my opinion, EVERYONE should have to work for tips in a bar or restaurant at some point in their life. You need to walk in mile in this person’s shoe to understand where their income comes from. Average service deserves 20%, good service deserves more, and really bad service deserves a discussion with the manager to explain the situation and figure out where the fault lies for the bad experience — then go from there. Even with bad service you should consider 15%. It’s a part of going somewhere where you will be served. It’s part of the price of admission so budget for it.

    I usually tip a dollar or two for a bar/brewery growler fill where staff rely on tips for the majority of their income.

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