Understanding the Difference Between Growlers and Crowlers in the Craft Beer Scene
Amid the rapidly growing craft beer scene, beer enthusiasts and pub-goers are continuously looking for new ways to enjoy their favorite brews. Enter the age of Growlers and Crowlers. In this article, we will delve deep into these glorious beer vessels, truly understanding the appeal and characteristics that set them apart. So, grab a drink, sit back, and let’s explore the magical world of Growlers and Crowlers.
Table of Contents
- What is a Growler?
- What is a Crowler?
- History of Growlers and Crowlers
- Comparing Growlers and Crowlers
- Pros and Cons of Each
- Choosing the Right Vessel for Your Beer
- How to Clean and Maintain Your Growler
- Popular Types of Beer for Growlers and Crowlers
- Take the Fun Home: DIY Brews
- Let’s Start a Conversation
A Growler is a reusable container that has become popular among beer enthusiasts worldwide for its convenience and eco-friendly nature. Traditionally made of glass, they now come in different materials such as stainless steel, ceramic, and even plastic. Growlers are commonly used to transport and share draft beer from a brewery, bar, or pub. They range in size from 32 ounces (also known as “howlers”) to 128 ounces, with the standard 64-ounce growler being the most commonly used.
A growler has a screw-on or flip-top cap that is designed to seal in the freshness of the beer, making it ideal for extending your pub experience into your home or a friend’s gathering. Fill up a growler with your favorite craft brew, and you can enjoy it for up to a week—provided it remains unopened. Once you open it, though, you’ll want to finish it off in a day or two to avoid losing carbonation and developing off-flavors.
A Crowler is a relatively more recent addition to the craft beer scene, but it has quickly gained popularity among beer aficionados. Short for “can growler,” a crowler is a single-use, oversized aluminum can that typically holds 32 ounces of beer—though you may also come across variants that can contain anywhere between 16 to 64 ounces. Crowlers are filled and sealed at the brewery, bar, or pub using a specialized crowler-seaming machine, which ensures that the can is airtight.
Much like growlers, crowlers allow you to enjoy draft beer at your leisure, on your terms. But what sets crowlers apart, apart from their packaging, is their increased shelf life, generally lasting up to a month (or even more) unopened, thanks to the optimal seal provided by the canning process. Crowlers are perfect for those who want to try new, exclusive, or limited-release beers to enjoy them at home, without the commitment of purchasing a reusable vessel.
The growler has a rich history that can be traced back to the late 1800s in the United States. Back then, beer was often transported from the pub to the home in galvanized steel pails with lids. One popular theory behind the name “growler” is that as the beer sloshed around in the pail, carbon dioxide would escape, creating a growling sound. During the Prohibition Era in the 1920s and 1930s, beer was sold illegally, often transported in such makeshift containers.
In the 1980s, growlers made a significant comeback, now designed more sophisticatedly and made from various materials like glass, stainless steel, and ceramic. Breweries and pubs began using growlers as a selling point to attract beer enthusiasts who wanted a convenient way to transport their favorite draft beers home, and growlers soon became an essential part of the craft beer experience.
Crowlers, on the other hand, are a more recent invention, brought to life by Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado, in collaboration with Ball Corporation, in 2014. Their invention was born out of the need for a more practical and user-friendly alternative to traditional growlers. While growlers require regular cleaning and diligent maintenance, crowlers offer durability, convenience, and a longer shelf life, which has made them increasingly popular among beer lovers.
Although both growlers and crowlers serve a similar purpose in transporting draft beer, there are some fundamental differences between the two that cater to varied preferences among beer drinkers.
- Growler: Traditionally made from glass (either amber or clear), growlers now also come in stainless steel, ceramic, and even plastic materials, giving you plenty of options to choose from.
- Crowler: Made of aluminum, crowlers are essentially oversized cans designed for single-use and subsequent recycling.
- Growler: Growlers come in various sizes, from 32 ounces (howlers) up to 128 ounces. The standard size is the 64-ounce growler.
- Crowler: Crowlers typically hold 32 ounces of beer, but there are variants available that range from 16 ounces to 64 ounces.
- Growler: If unopened, a growler of fresh beer will typically last up to a week. Once opened, it’s best to consume the beer within a day or two to maintain optimal taste and carbonation.
- Crowler: Thanks to the airtight seal from the canning process, an unopened crowler of beer can last up to a month and sometimes even longer. However, once opened, the beer should be consumed within a day or two, just like with growlers.
- Growler: Reusable and environmentally friendly.
- Crowler: Single-use and recyclable, offering convenience without additional cleaning and maintenance.
- Reusable and eco-friendly.
- Various materials to choose from.
- Available in multiple sizes.
- Can be a collectible item or a personalized gift.
- Allows for greater customization (such as insulation or handles).
- Requires regular cleaning and maintenance.
- Shorter shelf life compared to crowlers (approximately one week, unopened).
- Glass growlers are at risk of breaking.
- Some materials (like clear glass) can allow light exposure, which can affect beer quality.
- Longer shelf life compared to growlers (up to a month or more, unopened).
- No cleaning or maintenance required.
- Airtight seal maintains beer freshness and flavor.
- Can be easily recycled.
- Single-use may be less environmentally friendly than reusable growlers.
- Limited capacity options.
Ultimately, the right vessel for you depends on your personal preferences, drinking habits, and lifestyle.
- If you’re an environmentally-conscious beer enthusiast who loves to collect and doesn’t mind a little cleaning and maintenance, a growler might be the right choice for you.
- If you’re someone who loves to try new beers, isn’t keen on keeping up with the cleaning, and values the convenience and longer shelf life, a crowler might be more up your alley.
If you choose to enter the world of growlers, it’s essential to know how to clean and maintain your growler. Here are some simple steps to follow:
- Rinse: As soon as you finish your growler, rinse it thoroughly with hot water to remove any residue.
- Wash: Fill the growler with warm, soapy water, and use a growler brush to scrub the interior walls. Be sure to clean the lid or cap as well.
- Rinse Again: Rinse the growler and lid carefully, ensuring that no soap residue remains.
- Air Dry: Allow your growler to air dry upside down on a growler drying rack or clean, dry surface, making sure that no moisture remains.
- Storage: Store your growler with the lid off to avoid trapping any lingering moisture, which can cause mold or mildew.
Virtually any beer style can be enjoyed in a growler or a crowler, but some popular choices among beer enthusiasts include:
- IPAs (Indian Pale Ales)
- Stouts and Porters
- Sours and Goses
- Barrel-Aged Beers
Whatever your preference, the magic of the growler and crowler lies in your ability to explore the vast world of craft beer and enjoy new flavors on your own terms.
As growlers and crowlers continue to gain popularity, beer enthusiasts are venturing into the world of homebrewing, creating their unique spins on traditional styles. If you’re inspired by the growler and crowler culture, consider trying your hand at brewing your favorite beers at home.
We hope this comprehensive guide to growlers and crowlers has given you an idea of what makes these beer vessels special and how to choose the right one for you. So now, whether you’re a seasoned beer nerd or a casual tippler, you’re ready to conquer the pub scene with the perfect beer-holding companion.
We’d love to hear from you. Have you joined the growler or crowler revolution? Share your thoughts and experiences below! On top of that, don’t forget to let us know your favorite beers to fill your growlers and crowlers with, so we can all expand our horizons in the ever-growing craft beer universe. Cheers!