The craft beer and microbrewery trend is on the rise, so you’ve probably seen those ‘Grolsch type’ beer bottles around with the hinged lid. These containers are called beer growlers, and they’re a handy and trendy way for you to get your draft beer from point A to point B whilst keeping the beer fresh while looking like a beer pro in the process 🍺
Beer growlers in a nutshell
Beer growlers are hinged bottles used to transport draft beer and keep the beer from losing its gas in transport. They come in a variety of shapes and materials, such as glass, ceramic, and stainless steel, and you may reuse them indefinitely if you treat them with care.
Most beer growlers come with nifty handles and designs and are a great way to get your favorite draft from the brewery to your home.
If you’re interested in acquiring one of these iconic bottles, here’s all you need to know about beer growlers, how to use them, and where to buy them in Australia.
The history of beer growlers – how it all began
The old-fashioned growler didn’t look like the sleek glass or ceramic beer containers we have today. In the late 1800s, growlers were containers made of galvanized steel with a lid. They were heavy, but it meant lads could carry their ale home from the local pub.
According to legend, fizzy beer would tend to let gas escape from under the metal lid, which sounded like a growl. Other lore explains that the recipient of a pint of beer might growl at the barman for not filling his pale to the brim. Either way, the ale pail became fondly known as a growler, as it is today!
During prohibition there was a move to abolish beer growlers entirely as children used to transport the ale to their parents. Thankfully that didn’t succeed (about the growler, not using children to transport booze).
Brothers Charlie and Ernie Otto introduced the first modern glass growlers in Wyoming under the banner of the Otto Brothers’ Brewing Company in 1989.
How do beer growlers work?
Growlers are containers made of glass, ceramic, or metal, that are used to preserve the gas in a draft beer during transport and typically seal via a hinged lid. Properly sealed, growlers can hold carbonation for a week or more, and some growlers have valves to replace lost carbonation in the racking process.
Growler filling methods
There are various ways you or your barman can fill a beer growler:
- The bottom-up method is the most common procedure of filling a growler where the decanter attaches a tube to the beer faucet, places it inside the growler, and fills the container from the bottom upwards.
- Simple decanting. This method is the least likely to retain carbonation as the decanter simply fills the growler from the faucet to the growler opening.
- Counter pressure carbon dioxide filling empties the residual oxygen inside the growler before adding the beer. This method ensures the best carbonation retention of the three ways.
Why use a beer growler?
Firstly, because they’re stylish, and they show you’re serious about your beer.
Beer growlers are reusable, making them an environmentally conscious choice. They’re great for transporting draft beer straight from a brewery, ad they’re great for home brewers to share or sell their ale and enjoy fresh-tasting local draft beer.
Larger beer growlers are typically equipped with a handle, making them easier to transport than cans and kegs.
Growlers are also helpful in draining the last litre or so of larger kegs and keeping them gassed and fresh while the next keg can be underway.
Types of beer growler
Beer growlers come in different materials and sizes, depending on the consumer’s particular needs, and each has its advantages. Gone are the days of the old pail system because today, growlers come in the following materials:
By far the most popular style of beer growler. You’ll most commonly see draft beer served from glass growlers. The glass is typically amber, making the beer aesthetically more appealing, although clear glass varieties are also quite common.
Clear glass growlers are not ideal as they allow the UV light to cause a beer to become spoiled or “skunked” during oxidation. Obviously, being glass, these bottles can shatter or break, affecting their reuse and longevity. Take care while under the influence!
Stainless steel growlers
Stainless steel growlers are tops for their durability, and their insulation capacity allows them to keep your beer colder for longer. Their strength makes them ideal for camping out, beaches, or concerts where more fragile growlers would likely break.
Or in other words, they make great beer growlers for the Australian lifestyle!
The only drawback to steel beer growlers is it’s difficult to judge filling levels like the glass variants, so the bottom-up method is your best bet as filling it is low foam.
Ceramic beer growlers are visually appealing but less common and usually a little pricier. Their relative fragility makes them costly to replace should they chip or crack. They are heavier than the other two varieties, and suffer the same challenges as stainless steel growlers when measuring your draft refill.
Beer growler sizes
Beer growlers in Australia come in a variety of sizes as there’s no real standard. Most of the time they’re sized to suit a drinker’s desired consumption levels.
1.9 litres is a common and practical size for a beer growler, although it’s possible to buy smaller varieties, or for the hardcore you can find them as large as 3.7 litres.
In the US the most popular size of beer growler is 64 US fl oz (1.89 litres) or the 32 US fl oz or 1 US Quart size (0.95 litres). These smaller growlers are called howlers as an abbreviation of half-growler.
How to reuse a beer growler (inc. cleaning)
Cleaning is an essential aspect of ensuring your beer growler is safely reused. Bacteria can thrive on a growler when left to stand empty, so you should take care and rinse it out as soon as you finish drinking your draft.
Some simple beer growler maintenance tips are as follows:
- Rinse the growler at least three times with hot water and ensure you swirl the water to reach the entire inside of the growler bottle.
- Stand your growler upside down on a rack to properly air dry. A damp growler may attract bacterial growth, so the bottle should be properly dried.
- Do not recap your clean growler. Moist air trapped within the growler may also cause bacterial growth or bad residual smells.
If you leave your growler half drunk for a period of time and the beer inside has begun to spoil, then wash the growler with a cleaner formulated for home brewery cleaning. A brush will help you loosen any debris left in your container.
So, should you buy your own beer growler!?
Beer growlers are great to keep your draft beer fresh and they look super cool (even if you’re not a hipster).
By reusing your growler you can save the pallet and enjoy your brew at the same time.
Beer growlers also make awesome gifts. What guy wouldn’t appreciate the gift of a growler, especially one with a cold brew inside?
If you want to know where to buy a beer growler in Australia, thankfully you’ll find them at many bottle-o’s, online beer stores, or the likes of Dan Murphy’s.
“What is a beer growler?”, written by Janine M.