HopHead Hardware is part of multiple affiliation programs and links help HopHead Hardware generate revenue. We appreciate you using our links if you decide to purchase anything mentioned on this website.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Not So Fast, Don't Pitch Your Growler Yet

I recently read an article on DRAFT Magazine's website about giving up on growlers. The article almost made a viable argument against using growlers, but there were issues with the author's evaluation. It is no secret that growlers can damage fine beer by exposing it to oxygen and releasing carbonation from the solution. Every time a glass is poured the beer inside of a growler is jostled, no matter how careful one is. This releases some carbonation. The volume also drops and leaves room for oxygen and a void for CO2 to escape to. This eventually leads to flat oxidized beer. None of us want that. As bad as the degradation sounds it doesn't really happen very fast.

Most growlers are 64oz; if we pour into a pint glass we are generally pouring about 12oz if we account for the beers head. So, a standard 64oz growler holds 5.3 pours worth of beer. That is quite a bit of jostling of the beverage. Now it is time to be honest with ourselves. How often does a 64oz growler fill last more than a day after being open? Most of us empty our growlers before they have a chance to go flat., especially if we are drinking with other people. Decarbonization does not happen instantly; it takes hours in a sealed container. Once a growler has been recapped the pressure inside quickly approaches equilibrium with the remaining liquid and then slows as pressure is close to equal. The carbonation loss is minimal.

Sometimes a beer has a high ABV or we only want to have a pint or two. In this case, a 64oz growler is not a good solution. Enter the 32oz growler, it holds two pints of beer. That is half of the amount of beer being risked. The DRAFT Magazine article fails to mention the quarter-gallon option.

Some breweries invest a lot of money in packaging equipment and want to keep the packaging lines running. Idle equipment is not making money and breweries are businesses after all. A brewery with packaging equipment does not want to fill your growler; they want to you to buy their packaged beer off of their expensive equipment. Many breweries a very small business that cannot afford bottling or canning lines, case packers, box erectors, etc. Draft beer in a sealed container is the only option if a brewery wants to move their beer outside of their establishment.

Crowlers are an answer but are not the answer. I recently got back from vacation. The place where we stayed had a nice craft beer bar just down the road that filled Crowlers. That big can of delicious beer was perfect for sitting by the pool and I went through a few of them. They don't have lids though so one the can was opened it had to be finished. Crowlers certainly have a place in the realm of beer packaging but they cannot be resealed. For me, this is a problem. An unsealed can will degas quickly. A growler can be resealed.

We all have personal preferences. I like 32oz growlers. If I go to my local growler filling station I will opt for two 32oz growler fills even if I am getting the same beer in both. Anyone that is filling a growler and is worth their salt will purge you growler with CO2 and make sure the lid is placed on nice and tight. Laws and good practice tell them so shrink wrap the lid too. A growler can hold for weeks or longer if they are left unopened. The countdown to spoiled beer isn't really that fast and it doesn't start until the cap is turned.