Growler: the word sounds like a dare. What is a Growler? Why have Growlers become popular in recent years? How long can beer stay fresh in a Growler? What does it all mean? To find the answers to these questions and more, stick with me, and all will be explained; to discontinue your search for knowledge, stop reading immediately, forget this ever happened, and enjoy your blissful ignorance...the rest of us are taking the red pill.
What is a Growler? According to Wikipedia, the most reliable source in the history of mankind, a Growler is "a glass or ceramic jug used to transport draft beer." Growlers can range in size from 32 oz to 2 Liters, but 64 oz seems to be the most popular size. Their name is derived from the sound its 19th century ancestor, a galvanized pail, made when CO2 escaped from its lid, which is kind of awesome. (Hint: It sounded like a Growl) Growlers can come with either a screw-on cap or a porcelain gasket cap, and everyone can agree that they will keep beer fresh for at least a day or two. Surprisingly, that is where the general agreement on Growlers ends.
As some craft beer afficianados may be aware, there is a great deal of controversy surrounding Growlers and their use in the modern beer community. Some brewers, like Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, are adamantly against the use of Growlers, and with good reason: according to Mr. Oliver, "Growlers are basically beer destroyers. They’re often unsanitary, and the refilling process mixes in a lot of oxygen–the tiniest amount of oxygen kills beer so quickly. Then, if you walk across the street with say, an IPA, in full sunlight, with a clear growler, the beer will skunk before you get to your car." He then added, "For the brewer, this is like if you went to a nice restaurant, ordered something great, and then took the beautifully presented plate of food, scraped it into a bag, put that bag in the fridge for 3 days, microwaved it, and then based your opinion of that restaurant on your bag of old food." Sounds pretty terrible, right? Why, then, are they so popular, and why is there any amount of controversy surrounding what appears to be a terrible practice?
The popularity stems from the drinking public's newfound interest in beer; sometimes, beers are available on tap that are not available in a 12 ounce bottle, and Growlers provide a much needed method of transport from the pub to a patron's 'fridge. Also, Growler beer is generally cheaper than bottled beer as it is purchased in bulk and the savings are passed on to the consumer. Combine the consumer's demand for quality beer at bulk pricing with the brewer's desire to see his product tasted at its best, and you end up with the Growler Controversy. While I understand the awesomeness inherent in a giant bottle of beer, I also understand that, without proper sanitation and pressurization, the beer will not taste as fresh as the brewer intended. What, then, is a beer lover to do when he or she desires nothing less than 64 oz of beer-y goodness? He or she can seek out an establishment that carries a high-tech pressurizer such as the Pegas Craftap Growler Filler, a technological marvel which creates a pressurized seal that purges the Growler of any oxygen before filling it with one of four rotating drafts.
While oxygen is the primary enemy of beer, improper sanitation techniques can be equally harmful. Soap, for instance, should never touch a growler, as it can leave behind a greasy residue that can spoil the freshness of the beer. Growlers should be sanitized with sterilization tablets and then air-dried to ensure that no impurities have clung to the inside of the glass. Also, in order to protect the beer from Ultra-Violet radiation, Growlers should be brown and not clear, as the brown glass helps to filter out harmful UV rays.
Where, then, in our fair city is a serious beer drinker supposed to go to fill a proper Growler? Luckily, The Backyard Ale House provides all the positives of Growler drinking while filtering out all the negatives. Our Pegas Craftap system purges our brown, 64 oz Backyard bottles of oxygen, giving you a beer that stays fresh for up to three weeks at a time. (While we will fill a growler off of our bar taps, we do not reccommend keeping them over two days time, as the oxygen will undoubtedly spoil the beer inside) Most of our Growlers are priced at $15 American dollars a fill, a true bargain in these trying economic times. Lastly, our Growler exchange program ensures that each Growler is clean and sanitary when you enjoy it; after paying an $8 deposit for your first Growler, simply return it when you want another fill, and we will replace it with a clean bottle that has been sterilized and air dried. As the only bar in Scranton to feature a Pegas Craftap system, we gaurantee that our Growlers provide the freshest beer in town, which is one of about 10,000 reasons you should visit our Bottle Shop today.
That being said, what does it all mean? It means that the people have spoken, uttering a GROWL so loud that their demand for quality beer can no longer be ignored. And we, as always, are doing our best to give the people what they want, which is 64 ounces of clean, fresh beer.
Join me next week, as I shamelessly plug another reason why you should visit The Backyard Ale House...you won't regret it, I swear.
See you on the flip side.