Growlers 101

Some craft beer drinkers have been using growlers for years. For those of you haven’t, check out this conversation with Matt St. Hilaire, the GM at our Tasting Room. Matt talks about growlers and why they’re worth having. Maybe this is the year you get yours…

 

Let’s start with the basics. What is a growler?
It’s a measured container for filling with beer to take away from a Tasting Room, brewery, or brewpubs. I’ve seen them in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but most of them look like a jug with a small handled – basically a glorified jug.

 

How much beer can a growler hold?
A lot of breweries use growlers that hold 32 ounces of liquid, though technically, 32-ounce growlers are called “howlers” (aka half a growler). At Sebago, we have 64-ounce growlers (holding 4 pints), one made of glass and another made of stainless steel. We sell a 32-ounce stainless steel howler too.

 

What’s the difference between glass and stainless steel growlers?
The biggest difference is light. With a stainless steel growler, there’s no light that would get to that beer, like a keg. With glass, even though it’s dark brown, it still allows some light in. Specific to Sebago, our 32-ounce stainless steel is double-walled so it’s even more insulated, keeping the beer fresher and colder for longer.

In general, stainless steel is a little bit lighter in weight, great for canoe trips and camping! It comes with an attached lid with a rubber seal, which also helps keep it fresh.

 

How long will beer in a growler stay fresh?
If you don’t open it and keep it in your fridge away from the light, the beer will still taste like it came out of the tap for about 5-7 days. After it’s opened, you’re gonna want to drink the beer at that sitting or the next. There’s a significant depreciation in the quality if you wait too long after you’ve opened the growler the first couple of times.

 

Are there any beers NOT good to keep in a growler?
Definitely nitrogen stouts – the CO2 amount in those beers isn’t enough to keep the carbonation, so they go flat even if you don’t open it. But pretty much every other beer keeps well in a growler.

 

How do you properly clean a growler?
As soon as you’re done drinking, give it a good rinse. You can use some warm water and dish liquid if you want, but it’s not usually necessary. When a brewery or bartender fills your growler, they should rinse it out before filling it, to ensure there’s no residue from previous beers.

 

Why are growlers awesome?
They’re great because not everything that is poured is packaged, so you can get specialty beer that we don’t package, put it in your own package, and take it with you.

 

How much is it to fill a growler?
Like most other breweries, we use the same equation that we use for selling pints, so depending on the price of a pint, we’ll charge something close to that to fill the growler or howler. For example, a pint of Slick Nick is about $6, so it would be about $12 to fill a 32-ounce howler and twice that for a 64-ounce growler.

 

Anything else people should know about growlers?
A growler can only be filled by the brewery by which it was sold.

 

If you’re ready to get your growler, we have them at all Sebago locations – and we’re happy to fill them up too! Sebago glass growlers are $8, stainless steel growlers are $28, and 32-ounce double-walled/insulated stainless steel howlers are $28. (Pro-tip: Come to the Tasting Room to get our latest small batch beers you can’t get anywhere else!)