The Growler Apocalypse
Mike Stuart | May 11, 2013
Oh the beer growler. The friendly, familiar, smile-inducing 64oz brown jug that many of us love and hate. Wait, hate? Yeah, I sometimes lose patience with the growler because I don’t have the time, energy, or friends available to finish it off before it goes flat. Ahh, the carbonation dilemma has plagued many a beer drinker who picked up some fresh draft beer to bring home. If you open the growler more than a few times over a period of time you are likely drinking some flat beer. It’s not the end of the world but sometimes that beer is missing the brewer’s intended pop. Enough of the negative Nancy talk because technology, and crowd-sourced funding, will revolutionize the growler experience. Yes, fresh draft beer will now be more accessible and have a longer shelf-life. Read on to learn how to keep it fresh, transport it safely, and where to fill it locally.
The Carbonation Campaign
Thanks to sites like Kickstarter.com there are no fewer than four recent projects aimed at preserving growler carbonation that have destroyed their fund raising goals. This has fueled a bit of an arms race when it comes to maintaining the freshness of your beer. Who wins? Us. The consumers. Them. The brewers. Oh, and capitalism. The visionaries taking the risk to bring their dream to market. Let’s take a deeper dive on our options.
This Kickstarter campaign exceeded their funding goal more than ten-fold for their carbonation injection system to compliment their “Braüler” modular growler system. Essentially, this is a stainless steel high-tech growler with an optional cap that allows you to inject CO2 into your vessel. You use food-grade mini-CO2 catridges in conjunction with their special cap to give your beer a dose of carbonation. It’s a very simple and aesthetically pleasing design. They should be available this summer to the public and probably carry a $50 price tag (for just the cap). It may seem pricey at first but its a pretty small investment to protect the $10-20 beer investment you just made.
Stop me if you’ve heard this idea before – create a growler cap that let’s you push CO2 into your vessel to preserve carbonation. The Growler Saver provides a similar solution to the same problem already discussed but doesn’t require a proprietary growler since this will screw on top of a standard 64oz glass jug. They also take a slightly different approach to how you get the CO2 in, and out, of the growler. To carbonate, you can hook up to a hand-held mini-CO2 injector or they will be releasing an adaptor to hook up to your kegerator CO2 line. There is purge valve similar to what you find on a corny keg which can certainly be useful (and a safety must when dealing with glass and its finite pressure limits). The simplicity and flexibility of the device puts it ahead of the others in my opinion. You can read a pre-release test review from the good folks over at Homebrew Finds to learn more. Again, we should see this hit the market this summer in the $50 price-range.
This campaign beyond destroyed their funding goal, to the tune of $200,000 over goal. This is similar to the Fresh Cap concept but again puts a little different spin. It uses a proprietary stainless steel growler with an awesome handle to help carry it and then offers a cap with a picnic tap! The picnic tap line can easily snap on and off as needed (and for cleaning/sanitation). CO2 goes in via standard mini-cartridges as demonstrated before. You can pre-order them now for an August delivery with the growler itself setting you back $65 and the keg tap lid $30. Again, this is investment that should pay dividends over the long haul.
Another successful fund raiser breathes new life into the simple old growler. Okay, so we’ve seen the proprietary growler and CO2 injector cap. Then there is the universal cap with CO2 injection. Then there is the proprietary growler with the keg tap cap. What’s left? Yep, the universal cap with keg tap cap. TapIt Cap uses a simple mini-cartridge injector along with a picnic tap to extract your sweet nectar. I like this approach since you really don’t have to open your growler other than the first time you put on the lid. This preserves the carbonation originally provided and reduces the chance of nasty oxygen creeping in to foul up your beer. You can just perch it in your refrigerator and then pour a pint as needed. It’s a very simple but practical design to bring fresh draft beer into the home. This one is in manufacture right now and looks to run about $40. If I were a betting man, I’d say this is the design that will take my money.
But Wait, There’s More!
Preserving your draft beer is one of the biggest challenges but that doesn’t solve all the twists and turns in dealing with getting it from tap to table. Transporting the top-heavy vessels can prove challenging as well as maintaing temperature. Here are a few other items you may want to consider.
Where to Fill
So you know about growlers but where can you fill them up around here? There are a number of options and they continue to grow as people get hip to the idea of bringing home fresh draft beer. Your options will only expand as the devices mentioned above become more common place. For now, here is a list of local filling stations.
Cork N’ Bottle
You’ve Been Warned
Mark my words. Growlers will grow. As craft beer continues to take hold in the minds flavor-seekrs, so to will the idea of bringing home fresh beer just like pre-prohibition times. With all the new gadgets to keep it fresh and serve it easily people will find the format appealing. Are you prepared for the growler apocalypse? Better bring a cup…