The Crowler of Beer, a 32-Ounce Aluminum Can of Draft Beer
Unless you’re brand new to the brew scene, you’re probably already familiar with the growler, a type of glass jug used to get draft beer from the tap to the fridge.
Craft Beer Merch
Books on Homebrewing, Craft Beer T-Shirts, and Stainless Steel Growlers, Oh My!
Growlers are great, to be sure, but they do come with some downsides, not the least of which is that they trap traces of oxygen during the bottling process. The introduction of oxygen can spoil the just-poured freshness of a choice draft quicker than you can say, “Cheers.”
What if there was a vessel that could offer the most of the capacity of a growler and an even greater degree of convenience without any of the flavor-killing limitations? Turns out, there is.
Beer drinkers, meet the Crowler.
It may sound like something you’d order from a donut shop, but the Crowler is actually the next step in the evolution of the to-go beer receptacle. And, they're available across the country, whether you're sippin' from the beaches of Florida or skiing the slopes of Colorado.
What Is a Crowler?
Simply put, a Crowler is a cross between aluminum cans and traditional glass growlers. You might think of them as miniature kegs—they provide all the portability of old-school jugs but with more respect for the integrity of the goods inside. Not just beer cans, 32-ounce cans.
Hybridizing two of the most common beer containers offers many not-insubstantial perks. First and foremost among these is freshness.
When you order a growler from a local brewery, it’s first sanitized, then filled with your hops of choice before finally being capped and sealed. As mentioned, however, a small amount of air gets sealed in there with it and goes to work degrading the flavor of the beer more or less instantly. It’s an unfortunate but unavoidable part of brewers working with glassware.
The process of filling a Crowler starts the same way, only when it comes time to seal up the can, the bar hand places it in a special Crowler machine that sucks out all the undesirable air that’s found its way inside.
That's where seaming plays in. The machine’s built-in can seamer then fits it with an airtight, pressure-locked lid, keeping the contents completely off-limits from anything that might have a negative impact on its quality.
Oxygen-free beer means longer-lasting, better-tasting beer.
How Much Beer Does a Crowler Hold?
Overall capacity is one of the few areas where the OG growler has the edge over its compact descendant.
Growler jugs come in two main sizes, which are capable of holding 32 ounces and 64 ounces of beer, respectively. By contrast, Crowler cans only come in a single 32-ounce size.
Still, 32-ounce crowler cans are nearly three times the volume of a standard 12-ounce can—a good deal of beer by any estimation. It's basically a 12oz can on unmute.
Furthermore, it’s a cinch to buy and transport Crowlers by the twos, threes, sixes, or twelves, meaning you can ultimately get more beer for a similar price and less hassle. Just try toting multiple growlers home with no help and let us know how it goes.
What Is a Crowler Made Of?
There’s nothing fancy about a Crowler. They’re just oversized aluminum cans, identical to the ones you’d encounter at the supermarket or in a vending machine.
When it comes to preserving beer, aluminum crowlers has several sizable advantages over glass. For one, it’s flavor-neutral, meaning it won’t alter the taste of your suds in any way. It’s also a much better conductor of heat. As such, cans will get and stay colder in the refrigerator than bottles or jugs.
Finally, aluminum is cheaper and easier to recycle than glass and comes with a smaller environmental impact to boot. If you ask us, that makes it the clear winner. Plus, it's always fun to see stacks of aluminum cans on pallets in the warehouses of your favorite craft breweries. You just know they're all about to get spread out into crowler nation.
How Long Does Beer Last in a Crowler?
Since Crowlers don’t admit oxygen the way growlers do, they can keep your favorite beers fresh for up to a month, so long as they remain unopened. That kind of staying power is virtually unheard of for draft beer.
By contrast, you’ve only got about 7-10 days to use up what’s in a growler before it gets skunky, loses its natural carbonation, and becomes an all-around bummer. To put it another way, Crowlers boast a shelf life three to four times longer than their glass counterparts.
How Do You Clean a Crowler?
You don’t. That’s another beautiful thing about Crowlers: when you’re finished with them, you need to simply toss them in the recycling and re-up. No more endless rinsing, sour smells, awkward returns, or disappointing beer.
The next time you stop in at your neighborhood taproom to pick up some craft beers, take a pass on the jug and grab a couple of Crowlers instead. You’ll be glad you did when you taste the difference.
Do note though, your brewery down the street is far more likely to have crowlers on hand than craft beer retailers. Just a FYI.