Green’s Dictionary of Slang

growler n.3

[ety. unknown; ? the growling, grating noise of the can as it slid, full of beer, across the bar, or the ‘growling’ or grumbling of the children who were sent on the errand, or the drunken arguing that ensued among recipients of the liquor; for full discussion see Cohen, Studies in Slang VI (1999) pp.1–20]

1. [late 19C–1930s] (US) a whisky-flask.

2. [late 19C–1940s] (US) a container, usu. a covered pail with a carrying handle, in which beer is purchased at a tavern, then brought home for consumption; thus growler money, growler boy, growler bag.

3. [1920s–50s] (US prison) any form of container, used for coffee, conveying illicit homebrewed alcohol etc.

In compounds

growler joint (n.)

[late 19C] (US) a tavern that sells beer to be taken of the premises.

In phrases

rush the growler (v.) (also chase the growler, work...)

[late 19C+] (US) to buy beer from a tavern and bring it home for drinking there; thus growler-rusher, n. andgrowler-rushing n. and adj.