When you’re looking to take your favorite draft beer home from the brewery or taproom, you’ll likely encounter two main options: crowlers and growlers. Crowlers are aluminum cans that are filled and sealed on the spot, typically holding 32 ounces of beer, which amounts to about two pints. They are single-use, convenient, and protect your beer from light and air, keeping it fresher for longer.
On the flip side, growlers are reusable containers, often made of glass, that come in various sizes, with 32-ounce and 64-ounce being the most common. They’re a more sustainable choice since you can bring them back for refills. However, they’re bulkier to transport, and the beer can degrade quicker if not consumed shortly after filling due to potential light exposure and air seeping in after opening.
Choosing between a crowler or a growler depends on how quickly you plan to drink the beer, your transportation needs, and your views on sustainability. Crowlers are perfect for trying different beers without a big commitment, while growlers suit regular brewery visitors who enjoy a larger volume of their favorite brew and prefer to reduce waste.
Understanding the Basics
When you’re keen to take your favorite draft beer home from the brewery, you’ll likely end up choosing between a crowler or a growler. Each has its own charm and functionality, so let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
Defining Crowlers and Growlers
A crowler is essentially a single-use beer container. It’s a large aluminum can, usually 32 ounces, that’s filled and sealed on site. On the flip side, a growler is a reusable container generally made from glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. Growlers come with a resealable cap and are perfect for multiple uses, keeping your beer snug between pours.
Material is key to maintaining beer freshness and flavor. Growlers offer a traditional feel, with options including:
- Glass: Classic but fragile, and may allow light to affect the beer’s taste.
- Ceramic: Protective against light, with a sturdy build.
- Stainless Steel: Durable and insulated, often the best for temperature control.
Crowlers are exclusively made of aluminum, which is lightweight and keeps light out, ensuring your beer stays true to its taproom taste.
Size and Volume Variations
Understanding container size helps you plan your beer haul. Look at the typical volumes:
- Crowlers: Limited to one size — a convenient 32 ounces.
- Growlers: More versatile, with sizes ranging from 32 to 128 ounces.
Larger growlers work great when you’re sharing with friends, while crowlers are a solid pick for a personal serving. Remember, the size affects not just quantity but also the beer’s lifespan after opening. Choose wisely based on your plans.
The Preservation of Beer
When it comes to keeping your beer tasting great, how you store it matters a ton. You’ve got two real contenders: crowlers and growlers, each with their own ways of tackling oxygen, carbonation, and light—basically the archenemies of beer freshness.
Oxygen Impact and Freshness
Oxygen is beer’s kryptonite—it’ll ruin the party by making your beer stale. Growlers come with a screw cap which, unfortunately, isn’t totally airtight, so oxygen can sneak in over time. Crowlers, on the other hand, are sealed up tight at the brewery, giving oxygen no chance to crash the party, helping your beer stay fresher for longer.
Carbonation and Sealing Methods
Let’s chat carbonation—that satisfying fizz when you crack open a cold one. It’s all about the seal. Growlers, often made of glass or plastic, have a reusable lid, but can lose fizz quickly if not sealed just right. A crowler’s secret weapon is its one-time-use, airtight lid, which keeps the bubbles inside and beer carbonated, often allowing for a longer shelf life compared to growlers.
Light Exposure and Beer Quality
Your beer isn’t a fan of sunbathing. UV light can affect the quality of your beer by causing unpleasant flavors. While glass growlers are prone to UV light penetration, especially the clear ones, crowlers are typically made of aluminum and block all light, keeping your beer protected and preserving its true taste. It’s like sunscreen for your brew, keeping it fresh and delicious.
When choosing between crowlers and growlers, you’ve got to weigh some key practical factors. How easily can you take it with you? What’s it going to cost you, not just upfront but also down the line in terms of upkeep and reuse?
Portability and Convenience Factors
Glass growlers may look classic, but they’re not the lightest when filled with your favorite brew. In contrast, a crowler, which is essentially a large aluminum can, is quite portable and seals a lot tighter. You won’t have to worry about it as much when you’re on the move; they’re perfect for hikes, picnics, or beach days.
Cost and Reusability
Glass growlers might have a higher initial price, but considering they’re reusable, they can be cost-effective over time. However, keep in mind the potential need for a deposit. Crowlers, being single-use, cost less upfront, and they’re recyclable, which eases the environmental conscience a bit.
Cleaning and Maintenance
When it comes to maintaining your beer container, cleaning is a major factor. Stainless steel growlers are robust but need regular cleaning to prevent flavors from hanging around. Glass growlers share the same need for cleanliness. Crowlers, on the other hand, are a one-and-done deal—no scrubbing required.