Monday, May 06, 2013

Growler Guy

Beer is best when it’s fresh from the tap and one of the best ways to enjoy that freshness at home is the beer growler. Last year the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation to allow HoCo restaurants and liquor stores to sell draft beers in growlers. Less than one year later I've become a regular growler guy.

Growlers are also one of the best ways to enjoy the seemingly endless progression of craft beers. At the Wine Bin in Ellicott City for instance, they feature six growler offerings at any given time. Once a tap goes dry it is replaced with something new. There is always something different to try when I go in for a refill. Since they also offer a 32 oz growler you don’t have to make a big commitment to any one brew. Anyone can drink two pints of beer they only sort of like, right?

There are some things to take into consideration with growlers. For one, they don’t keep long. If you bring home beer in growler you should drink it within a week. The longer it sits, the more it loses that freshness. How it’s filled could be an issue as well. In his Thirsty in Seattle blog, Dan Swanson writes he’s “had enough flat, oxidized growlers to know that consistency in properly filling growlers is a big problem, at least at some establishments.  Let’s look at the array of filling technique advice.  Some folks say you should bottom-fill a growler using a tube.  Others say you can just fill from the top.  There are even more pro tips: Use a CO2 purge, make sure the growler is cold, cap on foam, use plastic polyseal caps (not the cheap white metal ones), and fill using counter pressure.  With all the varying information out there, it’s no wonder growlers aren't consistently filled flawlessly.”

“If your growler was not filled and capped properly, the beer will start to oxidize and go flat the minute you walk out the door.”

So far, I haven’t experienced any freshness failures. I guess the Wine Bin boys are using proper filling techniques but I can just as easily appreciate how that might not always be the case.

Still I like the upside. As Josh Christie writes in Brews and Books, "Growlers are also environmental friendly and often less expensive than prepackaged beer, which works out for everyone.”

I’ll drink to that.
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