The growler. Technically, it’s a half gallon. Emotionally, it’s so much more. It’s the go-to container of back-porch hooch and fine craft beer, or home-fermented concoctions and wines better suited to a box. It’s also, now, a bike.
“The West-ee’s is a term for people in our community that lost their license for DUI and now use bicycles for everything,” Ruiter explains. “Local bike shops help outfit commuters with a rack and such. The carts, baskets, trailers, packs, whatever, that they make are all really great.”
I’d never heard the term “West-ee” before this interview, nor had I ever heard any word for people who now ride bikes following a DUI. But I imagine them as a highly ingenious sect of Ruiter’s hometown of Grand Rapids, a people who have all the charm of a cartoon hobo (the kind with the handkerchief tied to a sick) and all the ingenuity of an Apollo 13 astronaut.
Evidently, the bike is a tribute to this bar-cruising lifestyle. So at the bike’s nucleus is its meaningful core, the age-old booze bucket, and every design detail grows out of that seed as inevitably as the branches from the trunk of an old oak. The center of the frame is like the growler’s massive handle, and the whole visual design conveys the industrial heft of the chunky bottle.
“The size, shape, and weight of the Growler creates a multitude of issues,” Ruiter tells Co.Design. “It should be as protected as possible, it should feel like the heart of the bike, the motor, the power, and really focus the attention on it. I overthink everything.”
But in reality, the Growler City Bike isn’t just about safely stowing your moonshine. It’s about moving on with your life after a bad decision–and finding a way to move on without the promise of making any better decisions in the future. In other words, it’s human nature on wheels.