Among craft beer drinkers there is many documented debates between bottles and cans I even discussed it myself once, here. I have searched the web and also have seen a few people discuss the “Great Growler Debate”. Which kind of growler is best? Clear? Brown? Steel?
I have never given this topic to much thought before as I am not a huge consumer of growlers but since I’ve been working Part-Time for some extra cash and fun at a bottle-shop and tasting room its crossed my mind. At the store I am in we use brown growlers and most of our customers who bring in their own growlers bring in brown with very few clear and I’ve never seen a stainless one come in.
First, the issues with all growlers as I see them:
- If not using a special growler filling system is pressure. To properly fill a growler to avoid head build up you should be between 1-2psi from the documents I’ve seen. However, most places that fill growlers also do servings so keeping the gas that low would make service to slow.
- By design growlers get narrow at the top. Since the beer is mixing with Oxygen that has such a narrow escape route there is a large build-up of foam when filling. It can lead to a lot of waste when filling a growler.
- Cleanliness: when we use a new growler we know its been cleaned properly. When customers return with their growler its not always properly cleaned and sediments cause all sorts of funky effects. I know we try to inform all of our customers when buying a growler and proper maintenance but doesn’t mean they listen.
- Temperature of the Growler: we keep our growlers in the fridge since using a cold growler to start is suppose to reduce the foam. I have seen very little evidence of this holding true.
Now we get into the brown vs clear vs steel debate:
- Brown Growlers:
- Pros: let in less light, remind people of beer since most beer comes in brown bottles, good if you end up storing for a while before consuming.
- Cons: hard to see levels when filling without proper light can lead to wasted beer.
- Clear Growlers:
- Pros: easy to fill can see exactly where the beer is, extra growlers make good yeast starter vessels for home brewing.
- Cons: Prone to going bad faster due to light penetration.
- Stainless Steel Growlers:
- Pros: no light penetration at all.
- Cons: unable to see where you are at when filling can lead to lots of lost beer.
Now somethings to take into consideration. Growlers are not meant for long term storage or trading. The intention for a brewer or retailer when they fill it is that it will be opened either that day or the next and consumed with 48 hours of opening. Also, since the beer is coming into contact with Oxygen once it comes out of the tap the process of the beer turning and developing off flavors has already begun so long term storage is bad.
Personally, from the retail side I am a fan of the clear ones due to the ease of filling and limited waste to maximize the value received from a keg of a beer. It also means more people can enjoy the brew. However, I can see advantage for every variety.
Please let me know your thoughts and weigh-in below in the comments section.
And that’s … From My Mellin!