Advanced Materials, Filling Stations and Better Practices

All About Beer Magazine
Ken Weaver

Growlers, even the best ones, are imperfect versions of what we’d like them to be. Taking draft beer, transferring it to a portable container, and having the sensory experience of that beer stay the same after some distance and time are involved. … Well, it’s a perilous trip.

Voicing the limitations of growlers isn’t particularly new (Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver did a thorough job stirring the pot a few years back, for example). Even the great food writer M.F.K. Fisher, who wrote sparingly about the subject, appreciated the limits of moving draft beer from its original place. “Beer in big cities,” she wrote in How to Cook a Wolf (1942), “can be sent out for in a bucket to the corner pub, even from Park Avenue, but probably even on Park Avenues, in New York or elsewhere, it is better in bottles.” (Buckets = early growlers.)

The core challenges haven’t changed too much. Exposure to oxygen degrades beer. So does sunlight (that delightful je ne sais skunk). Carbonation will depart if the beer isn’t kept inside a sealed, pressure-safe container. Temperature shifts tend to be unflattering. And outside yeast and bacteria would love nothing more than to chow down on whatever sugar’s left in there.

An ideal growling solution would protect one’s beer from all of these things and others. And we’re at least getting closer to that—addressing the limits of traditional brown glass beer growlers and aiming for the less imperfect stability found in bottles and cans. Recent years have had a wealth of new growler designs, retailer options, and legislative changes. More are on the way.

Fill ‘Er Up?

Perhaps the most noticeable shift over the past few years is via all of the new materials used for beer growlers, and their accompanying accessories. Beyond the typical 64oz glass growler, the options (some better than others) now include flexible pouches with names like EcoGrowler and The BeerPouch, unbreakable and BPA-free plastic growlers, beautiful ceramic ones, and plenty of stainless-steel varieties. The lattermost have probably had the most visible impact, involving various shiny, robustly designed growlers like The Bräuler, Miir, and Drink Tanks.

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