Beer Counselor #3

growler beer

Growlers are awesome.  While I am obligated to say so because of my day job, I actually do believe it.  Growlers allow you to get fresh beer from your local growler fill station to enjoy on your couch, by the pool, on a picnic, or wherever your beer drinking heart desires.

The growler originated sometime late in the 19th or early in the 20th century as a way for workers to enjoy a beer on their lunch breaks.  The modern half gallon glass jug version started in the late 80s with the Otto Brothers Brewing Company in Idaho.  At least that’s the story and it’s good a claim as any so we will go with that one.

Regardless of where or why they were created, growlers have become an integral part of the craft beer movement here in the United States.

So, you’ve gone to your local brewery or growler fill station, purchased a new growler, and gotten your favorite beer.  You’ve grilled out with friends and shared your growler and it now stands sad and empty.  What do you do?

First, rinse it out with water and then wash it.  Unless you are a home brewer (if you are a home brewer you already know how to clean a growler) you probably do not have a stiff brush that can get down into the bottom of the growler and scrub it clean.  However, if you rinse it out after its contents have been emptied into your belly, you should not need to use a brush.  The best way to clean it is to drop in a dollop of cleaning detergent (best is unscented and non-bleach based), run warm water to fill it to a little less than half.  Hopefully you have not thrown away the cap because now you are going to reseal it and shake it.  After a few seconds pour out the contents and then rinse it out until there are no more suds.

Once you rinse out the detergent you will need to rinse it with sanitizer.  That’s to eliminate odors and any other bugs that will affect the taste of your next fill.  You can get a good sanitizer from your local home brewing shop.  Most sanitizers are simple to use: place a little in the growler and fill with water.  Just follow the directions on the package on how much you will need to sanitize the growler.  Usually, once the sanitizer is introduced to the growler you pour it out again and then let it air dry.  Once it is dry it is ready to be filled again.

Work GrowlerNow, the growler is cleaned and sanitized.  You are ready to go and get it filled.  Here is a last bit of advice that will help improve the taste of the beer and will help the growler station not waste beer in the form of foam:  If at all possible cool the growler off in a refrigerator or in a cooler before you bring it to get filled. This can be hard especially as the weather turns warmer in late spring and summer.  Now, if you come see me or my compatriots at Craft, bring your growler and have us put in the cooler for you as you have a pint and maybe a bite to eat before we fill it.

As I said, this does two things.  One, it keeps the beer from changing temperature drastically which will affect the taste at the end.  Two, it helps the person filling it by getting the temperature of the glass (or metal) close to that of the beer, keeping the beer from foaming up too much during the fill.  Now, you want the growler to be cool, not frozen.  If ice forms inside it will also affect taste.  That is the one of the reasons you should not freeze your glasses at home when drinking craft beer.

Once you have the growler filled and you take it home, in my opinion, you have about 7-10 days to drink it at its optimum taste, if you don’t open it.  If you do open it and have a pint and then put it back in the refrigerator I would say you have another 2-3 days before you affect the taste.

If you do these things you will take care of your growler and give yourself many good beer experiences.


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