With the art of craft beer expanding at warp speed, we often find liquid treasures on tap that we’d like to take home with us. Either we’re at local brewpub or tap house and they don’t have our favorite elixir in portable format, or the brewer simply doesn’t distribute that particular brew.
HOPE IS NOT LOST – where there’s a will, there’s a way 🙂
Growlers are one of the oldest and most traditional ways to take home draft beer. The name reportedly originated from the sound CO2 made when it escaped from the lid covering the metal pail of the original design. But it could also be the more obvious sound a growling creature might make before having enough beer 🙂
Anyway, growlers are usually 64 ounces, but are sometimes available in 128 ounce varieties. They are typically made from stainless steel or glass. A fairly recent development incorporates vacuum technology to keep your brew cold. DrinkTanks even sells an add-on CO2 tap for their growlers so you can take the party with you.
A 64oz Growler is 4 US pints (16oz ea) for those that don’t care to do the math. And, therefore, 128oz = 8 pints. The biggest challenge for me with growlers is that unless they have a tight sealing lid (and glass ones typically do not), then you’d better be prepared to finish your precious brew in an evening. If you’re drinking alone, that might present a bit of a challenge – particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. Also, if you’re not planning to drink it right away, ensure the lid is well sealed – sometimes a trick with glass growlers depending on the cap.
NOTE: A UK reader points out that their pints are 20 imperial ounces (cheers!)…
The inspiration for this article was having a friend visit recently with his DrinkTanks, vacuum sealed growler with keg cap accessory. I had noticed similar growlers at a local tap house and been intrigued, but after seeing this one in action, I officially have growler envy. It kept the beer cold for over 24 hours, poured a beautiful head with consistent carbonation and it was our beer of choice after an evening at the tap house.
Howlers (or Grunts)
If moderation is the theme, or you’re drinking alone, then maybe a smaller option is for you. In the Northwestern US, I’ve encountered the term “grunt” to mean half grower, or 32oz (2 pints). The name goes along with the idea that it’s a smaller version of a growl. Again, they’re likely to be made of either glass or stainless steel, with vacuum insulation as an option.
Another reason for the grunt, if you’re like me, is that it’s hard to commit to 64oz of just one beer. Except a few standbys, like Guinness, Moose Drool or Powder Hound, I rarely drink more than a couple of pints of any particular beer.
Since 2 pints in a grunt would be considered by most to be reasonable in a sitting, glass is the most common and these are usually available at your favorite brewery, brewpub, or tap house.
As with the Growler, it’s vital to ensure your grunt has a tight-fitting lid that is secured immediately after it’s filled (if you don’t want it to be flat when you go to drink it).
Innovation: The Crowler
One of the newest innovations in the craft beer scene is the crowler – a mix between a can and (usually half) growler. Most common in 32oz, it fits the bill of not being too large. Aluminum is the material of choice, and It can be filled with beer from a tap, then sealed like a can using a special machine. Effectively, it’s a 32oz can that you can take with you wherever you want to go and both the can and the contents will be a great conversation piece. Further, you can take a few home without worrying about a bad seal, breaking the bank, or needing throw a party in order to crack one open.
These are single-use containers and therefore don’t add much to cost of your take-out order.
I’ve enjoyed craft beer for many years now and own several growlers. I don’t consider myself a beer snob, but… On the one hand, I’m in my 50s and I’ve only ever met a small number of beers I wouldn’t drink again. On the other hand, I enjoy the experience of a finding new beers and don’t tend to drink it in quantity. So, for me, a growler is only an occasional use item. I like these containers best to bring something unique to gathering of friends, some of whom consider me a beer snob, anyway.
So, if you enjoy beer in quantity, quality, or both – then there’s a “to go” container sized just for you and I hope this article helps clear up your options.
I discovered yet another way to get your beer to go. The “brew bag” or browler – a mylar bag with a resealable cap.