Beer Growlers vs Cans

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Nhmp105, Jan 27, 2016.

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  1. Nhmp105

    Nhmp105 Initiate (158) Nov 28, 2015 Georgia

    Grabbed a growler of Creature Comforts Tropicalia tonight. I have only had this beer in cans (when I can find it) but think I liked tonight's growler better. The smell was much more crisp than those I've poured from Cans into glass. The taste was as smooth as it comes. Do you think this is just because it was super fresh? Or have you also found your favorite brews to smell/taste better on a growler fill?
  2. ThomasMetal75

    ThomasMetal75 Initiate (0) Jun 15, 2009 Massachusetts

    I think most will say draft beer is better than cans or bottles because breweries usually keep their kegs at a consistent temperature and can regulate the carbonation levels to the desired amount. There is no way light will ever get inside a keg, so the beer wouldn't spoil from sunlight. With bottles and cans, sometimes stores or bars will have cases just sitting in storage (not climate controlled) until they are ready to go into the fridge. You never truly know how fresh your beer actually is. But a growler is slightly different from draft beer. Once you open that growler, you have to drink it in relatively short amount of time before the beer goes flat. But when you open a growler soon after it's been filled, it's quite a similar experience to draft. But in cans and bottles, the CO2 levels are not consistently controlled like they were at the brewery when the growler has been filled. That is why cans and bottles don't have the same smoothness and texture that draft and a freshly tapped growler does. Some companies have made growler taps that have food-grade CO2 caps to try to create the draft experience from a growler, and they keep the beer fresher longer. There is a home draft beer system called Fizzics that can tap a can, bottle, or growler. The unit is pressurized, so it keeps the carbonation intact in your beer longer. Anyone can feel free to correct me if I don't have my information correct.
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  3. mwa423

    mwa423 Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2007 Ohio

    My guess is that the difference might be that the can version might be pasteurized ND the keg version isn't. There's a lively debate on how (or if) pasteurization affects flavor. Perhaps @Peter_Wolfe can chime in to discussed the affect in flavor to different elements of beer when pasteurized

    (Really, I'm just curious to learn from the master)
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  4. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Poo-Bah (1,573) Jul 27, 2013 California
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    Carbonation will be different (how it is generated)

    That being said, I think most people generally prefer growlers (fresh)
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  5. Relik

    Relik Initiate (117) Apr 20, 2011 Canada

    Do I find beer smells or taste better out of a growler vs a can/bottle? Giving that both products are within my personal "freshness threshold" and i consume the growler and continence of the open bottle or can in a timely fashion; id have to say no i find no sensory difference between the 3 vessels. Any other heightened enjoyment might come from the size of the vessel the company im with, the activity i am involved in.

    The key is knowing what is fresh.
    This is also true for bottle and cans.
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  6. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (2,211) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    ...I'm no expert, especially when it comes to growlers, but, perhaps as devil's advocate, I'd like to point out that there might be many other extenuating circumstances. Freshness? Carbonation levels? Batch variation? Growler cleanness? Glass cleanness? Palate cleanliness?
    Beer is such a sensitive and volatile thing that it's hard to pinpoint some of these subtle, personal individual nuances.
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  7. The_Snow_Bird

    The_Snow_Bird Poo-Bah (1,774) May 7, 2015 Florida

    I prefer draft over bottle/can
  8. djtothemoney

    djtothemoney Initiate (151) Nov 30, 2015 Ohio

    A great brewery it should be a seamless transition, but it's difficult to do.

    Recently I had Project PAM on tap, and had the regular in a bottle about 2 weeks earlier, and the difference blew me away.
  9. Peter_Wolfe

    Peter_Wolfe Initiate (97) Jul 5, 2013 Oregon

    I'm forever a student, and wouldn't claim mastery of anything except one particular barley soup recipe...

    To your question, though, there is absolutely no question pasteurization negatively affects flavor. In most cases, the effect is relatively small - in a malt forward beer with little to no overt hop aroma the effect is almost negligible. For a beer with a lot of hop aroma, I'd avoid pasteurization if at all possible and only use it as a last resort in a tank with high plate counts.

    The thing about staling reactions is that they follow the normal Arrhenius equation (reaction rate doubles with every 10C), so the effect is linear with time and exponential with temperature (keep your beer cold!, people). The caveat here is that there is a suite of reactions with higher activation energy that don't start occurring until 120-130F. You can see where I'm going with this - even though pasteurization is a relatively brief treatment, it results in some caramel flavors and some other reactions that wouldn't otherwise occur. If you only look at the staling reactions that occur at room temperature and then calculate the increased reaction rate from 10 PU's, it looks relatively minor - like a couple of days of extra storage. When you factor in the "hidden" flavor changes from the higher energy reactions though, it's a larger difference. Those caramel flavors from staling reactions are killer for hop aroma - they effectively mask a lot of the more delicate hop flavors. It also goes without saying that if you have high DO, you create a lot of pro-oxidants during pasteurization (although most people pasteurizing do not have DO problems).

    So, yes, there's a negative effect. It matters more in some beers than others. I can't speak to all beers or for all brewers, but Anheuser Busch has traditionally pasteurized their cans/bottles but not their kegs, so the draft beer really is a little better in my opinion (although AAL doesn't suffer overmuch from pasteurization). Most craft brewers don't pasteurize at all, so I'd venture to guess that @Nhmp105 just had some really really fresh beer (which is best in all cases).
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