As craft beer becomes more and more popular and new breweries and taprooms pop up on every corner, the list of essential beer gear grows in parallel. Today's can't-live-without-it product -- a quality growler.Growlers come in a handful of shapes and sizes -- glass vs. steel vs. ceramic, screw top vs. swing top, single-wall vs. double-wall, and 1L vs. 2L, to name a few.
Off the top of my head, here are the five main reasons EVERYONE who likes beer should have a swing-top stainless steel growler (or three).
A lot of the best breweries don't bottle or can their beer -- either because bottling/canning equipment is too expensive, or because they don't have the distribution network in place that would allow them to get their beer on store shelves, or because they want to keep control over the entire production/presentation process.
That means taking bottles or cans home with you after a brewery visit isn't always an option -- and even if a brewery does bottle/can some of their brews, it's very likely that they'll produce plenty of seasonal or small-batch beers that are only available on tap.
So if you want to take a quart or two of beer home with you for later, you need a growler that can be filled for home drinking.
Most breweries will be happy to sell you a growler with their name and logo on it -- while it's cool to collect different designs, state alcohol laws in California and elsewhere often prohibit breweries from filling a growler that's covered with another brewery's logo.
So having a Societe or Stone or Ballast Point-branded growler is great if you make regular visits to the same brewery, but it won't do you much good if you like to try other spots.
However, having a growler that's not covered with a brewery's name or logo means that it can be filled at any brewery you stumble upon (subject to state laws and the brewery's filling equipment) -- a great reason to keep one in the trunk of your car everywhere you go.
If you're like me and you haven't made the move to kegging your homebrew, you know that bottling (and sanitizing bottles) is probably the most annoying part of your homebrewing process.
Bottles take up a lot of space and aren't exactly easy to clean and sanitize, particularly if you're prepping enough bottles for a 5 or 10 gallon batch. Then you've gotta cap each one and carry it to rest in its carbonating spot...ugh.
For that reason, in addition to a dozen swing-top Grolsch style bottles I always keep a growler or two on hand for bottling day to cut down the amount of time I spend sanitizing, filling, and capping.
Even if you do keg your homebrew, occasionally you'll want to take some of it to a get-together away from home and you probably won't feel like hauling the entire 5 gallon keg and tap system.
In those situations you'll want to have a growler for filling and transporting just like you would have done at a brewery.
A swing-top lid with a good gasket provides a solid enough seal to keep beer fresh and carbonated for 3-5 days, and maybe longer if you keep it cold. It also keeps air out, which prevents the oxidation which can ruin a beer's flavor. For that reason some breweries refuse to fill screw-top growlers -- they don't want to get blamed for flat, bad-tasting beer if someone lets a screw-top growler sit around for a few days before drinking it.
And as I mentioned above, using a swing-top growler for homebrewing keeps things sealed tight enough to allow the carbonation process to take place after bottling day -- can't say the same for screw-top growlers.
Everyone knows that light is beer's enemy -- bottles are usually brown or dark green to prevent "skunking" caused by sunlight or UV light. With stainless steel you don't have to worry about any light getting in. While a double-wall steel growler provides superior insulation as compared to anything else out there, even a standard single-wall steel growler will keep your beer cold while in transit from the brewery to your house, or from your house to another location. Cold + no light = good for your beer's taste.
A stainless steel growler can take a beating and still function just fine in spite of any minor cosmetic damages. Can't say the same for glass, which you know if you've ever dropped one. You can load up a steel growler in your trunk or a duffel bag and not have to worry about spilling beer all over your stuff.
There are also plenty of places that are cool with beer and wine as long as it's not in a breakable container -- all the more reason to have a steel growler handy as opposed to glass bottles or a glass growler.
Hopefully I've sold you on why you should always be in possession of at least one empty steel swing-top growler...you never know when you'll encounter the perfect beer that you desperately need to take home with you.
Check out our growler kits HERE -- they come standard with FREE Priority Mail Shipping in the US and FREE custom engraving and make great groomsmen gifts.
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