Are Growlers the Holy Grail of Beer Vessels?

By Julia Herz

You probably love growlers—those refillable containers that transport fresh craft beer from the local brewery or filling station to an even more local location (i.e. your home fridge). Mmm!

Well, these little beauties are on fire lately. Today the growler is as hot and exposed as an up-and-coming Hollywood star. Here are just a few instances of their popularity we’ve run across recently:

Some of your favorite big player chains like Whole Foods and Sunoco gas stations are getting in the game via growler filling stations. Locally, the more than 2,800 brewpubs and brewery tap rooms in America are responsible for fueling this frenzy.

Roll over each growler icon in the image below to see a quick description and ordering information.

Are growlers really the holy grail of beer vessels?

Some would say yes, and some would say no, but no one can deny that beer geeks and breweries are ga-ga over growlers. Yes, my friends, growlers are good! They bring us straight to the source of fresh craft beer, which helps us reduce a beer’s footprint (a common theme in the craft beer world) by being both refillable and, sometimes, recyclable.

That said, spoiler alert: Not all states allow growler sales under a retailer license, and not all brewpubs are allowed to sell growlers on site. Don’t worry, beer activists around the country are working to update laws across the board to make growlers more accessible.

Growler 101

  • Growler shelf life is not as long as that of a bottle, can or keg.
  • To preserve fresh draught beer flavor, your growler must be filled with care. Ask your retailer how they fill growlers. Fill tubes are better than direct fill, counter pressure filling is even better.
  • Filling warm or hot growlers causes foaming. For best results, make sure that your growler is cool or at least room temperature before filling.
  • Clear glass growlers (which potentially allows sunlight through) can cause skunking, which can negatively alter the taste of your beer.
  • Keep filled growlers cold and dark. Do not leave a filled growler in your car on a hot or very cold day.
  • It’s just fact: the beer is never as fresh and carbonated once opened.
  • When finished, be sure to rinse your growler well with warm water so it’s clean for the next fill.
  • Growlers are fragile, so don’t drop them!

*Special thank you to Tiffany Lutke who conducted research and growler procurement for this piece.

Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association, is a homebrewer, BJCP beer judge and Certified Cicerone®. Despite her extensive experience, she will always consider herself a beer beginner on an unending journey to learn more about craft beer.

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