Is the Growler Getting Canned?

Innovation by | Oct 2015 | Issue #105

Chances are you’ve already seen the Crowler, a can container for draft beer that’s available in 32-ounce and, more recently, 750-milliliter sizes. Although the two-pint can has been around for years, it took a collaboration between Colorado businesses Oskar Blues Brewing and the Ball Corporation to create and market the concept.

Known for pioneering canned beer packaging, Oskar Blues was looking for a new way to push the aluminum container’s limits while solving some of the glass growler’s inherent downsides, like sanitation and fragility, says Jeremy Rudolph, the man behind the Crowler at Oskar Blues. In the past, tabletop seamers were used with steel containers to can homemade goods. Oskar Blues worked with the Wisconsin Aluminum Factory on a machine that would seal Ball’s aluminum Crowler cans, and in November 2013, the brewery began using the new device in its taproom.

The big cans caught on, and Georgia’s Dixie Canner Co., which has been selling can seamers since 1895, began its Crowler program in fall 2014. At $5,500—plus $1,400 for a 2,400-count pallet of cans and lids—Dixie’s machine, which can seal about 900 cans per hour, makes canning affordable for smaller breweries. Additionally, the seamers have a small footprint, allowing bars and taprooms, like Strangeways Brewing in Richmond, Va., to mount them on the bar top.

“We wanted to provide a an easier ‘to go’ beer option that would allow folks to enjoy Strangeways in places that don’t allow glass, [like] the beach, parks or NASCAR events,” says community relations director Cheyenne Burnham. “They’re easier to pack up and carry around, and sometimes folks just don’t want another growler to take home.”

But the biggest benefit might be increased storability and freshness. “Filled and seamed properly, the Crowler has a much longer shelf life than growler containers,” says Parrish Stapleton of the Dixie Canner Co. “The Crowler has a hermetic seam, whereas the growler glass bottle does not, and loses freshness from the moment it is poured. We have customers that claim they have enjoyed a Crowler after up to four weeks of shelf life, some even more, if properly stored, refrigerated.”