Growler Fill & Retention

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by jeffgott, Mar 1, 2016.

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  1. jeffgott

    jeffgott Zealot (540) Feb 15, 2015 New Jersey

    Just wondering everyone's experience with growler fills and best practice for having fresh beer when u crack the growler open and whether or not u need to drink it all at one sitting. I am pretty hesitant to get growler fills at breweries and growler filling stores as my experience has been pretty poor in terms of keeping the beer fresh. Is there a limit on the amount of time you should keep a growler before indulging or any special tricks to keep it fresh after opening? Cheers
  2. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I'd say be prepared to drink the growler within 24 hours or so, have someone to share no recapping necessary. As always cold and dark. I've had HF growlers easily last a week or so, but that's time and distance too. If I get a local fill I'm drinking it asap.
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  3. Dogtirednj

    Dogtirednj Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2014 Pennsylvania

    Screw cap growlers don't hold up well in my experience. Flip-top is my vessel of choice. I use both 32 and 64 oz. Unopened they can last a week or two at best. screw cap once opened, drink it same day. Flip top, I've had good results 3-4 days on. The beer does lose some of it's original characteristics with each opening.
  4. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,921) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    Always give your screw tops an extra crank when you get 'em filled. Probably 95% of the time I can get another 1/8-1/4 turn on the cap. If you get 'em tight enough, they'll hold well enough to ship across country.
  5. HopBomb515

    HopBomb515 Initiate (0) Jun 15, 2013 New Jersey

    Posted a picture not too long ago with an Alien Church I cracked at exactly 3 weeks. In my experience some electrical tape around the seal does wonders. I drink my growlers when I know I can drink it in a session.
    jeffgott likes this.
  6. Raidersox

    Raidersox Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2016 Pennsylvania

    Not trying to hijack the thread but it seems appropriate to ask what are your thoughts on growler tap systems? Do they work and do they help to keep beer fresh or are they a waste of time and money?
  7. stevoj

    stevoj Poo-Bah (9,991) Nov 22, 2011 Idaho

    You can always try the grunt/howler 32 oz fill as a more easily consumable option.
    Geuzedad likes this.
  8. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (472) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    I must be different from most folks around here. I do give an extra crank or 2 on the cap when I get them, and I find that most beers will hold up well enough for a while. Even IPAs I have no problems if I don't get around to them for a week or so (properly stored, of course.)
    Bigger beers will last longer as well. I had a BA stout I kept for over a year before cracking, and it was as good as the day it was filled.
    I am the only one drinking the growlers most of the time (my wife may have an ounce or two, but no more) and I find that if I tighten the cap back down, and keep it in the fridge between pours, it'll last fine until the next day. Maybe a bit lower carbonation, of course, but I'm OK with that, as long as it's not utterly flat. Any more than a day or at the most 2 (again depends on the beer) there will definitely be negative consequences.
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  9. ecpho

    ecpho Aspirant (252) Mar 28, 2011 New York

    After capping a growler I cover the top with some saran wrap and tie that off with a rubber band. Don't know if it does anything but after opening for the first time, my beers are fine for a few days afterwards.
  10. Davey-C

    Davey-C Initiate (0) Jan 9, 2016 New York

    I've noticed at least three different types of caps: 1) white metal with waxed paper seal - garbage, 2) white metal with rubberized seal - ok, and 3) black plastic with conical plastic insert - good. My local home brew shop sells the latter. I think they run around $1.50 per. I've had issues with the fancy flip top growlers - I inherited a couple from my brother-in-law and they seem to chip off glass around the rim unless you carefully seat the lid just right. I can't bring myself to fill them as I imagine ingesting glass shards with each pour and it kinda ruins it for me...
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  11. edward_boumil

    edward_boumil Initiate (0) Jun 28, 2015 New York

    Does it have to be a growler man?
    I usually go with the smaller growler (I think they're called bombers, I just call em 750's). I like those because they are usually like 2 beers, easy to kill in one sitting. When I go for my local fill at Treehouse here in Mass I just bring a couple of these along and get a couple of beers, never have to worry about freshness and not being able to finish the beer. Plus you get a few of them and get a nice variety of beers. Its a win-win-win situation in my book.
    jeffgott likes this.
  12. edward_boumil

    edward_boumil Initiate (0) Jun 28, 2015 New York

    Dude I have to say you're profile pic is hysterical
  13. MilkLeg

    MilkLeg Initiate (141) Feb 8, 2016 Canada (AB)

    I've kept unopened growlers for a week no problem. The other night I tried for the first time recapping one I'd had a couple of pours from. I reopened it the next day to finish off the remaining 2/3 it had a noticeably different taste, went from a fresh stout to having some kind of stale bread thing going on. It kinda made me a bit less regretful of those times I decided to be a glutton and finish off the last 12oz of one even though I wasn't really feeling it. The best solution... always have someone to help you finish it off!
  14. MS22

    MS22 Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2009 Pennsylvania

    My experience is as follows.

    Swing tops: if filled onto liquid (as TH does) these will last much longer thab the tags say. I've had Julius last 6+ weeks just fine, DS even longer. I bring vinyl weatherproof e-tape and wrap the outer seal very tight and then wrap with parafilm to ensure against leaks.

    Screw tops: as long as the liquid is overflowing (not foam, actual liquid) and the void space is small taping the tops as above has produced similar luck.

    Screw tops filled with CO2 counter pressure (like Other Half) will last as long as you do not open. Taste will drop off as it would in bottles but the oxygen is purged so they do last.

    Crap fills where the brewery/bar does not purge or tap on top of liquid (foam pouring all over and tossing the cap on top) I'll comsume within 5-7 days max, usually 3.
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  15. vtcraft

    vtcraft Initiate (187) Apr 1, 2013 Vermont

    Having a Himebrew set up I use my co2. If I'm not going to finish the growler the day I open it I purge with some co2 and quickly put the cap back onand put back in the fridge Works great
  16. mfowler314

    mfowler314 Initiate (94) Aug 12, 2015 New York

    I use the growltap. It works well and allows me to drink a 64 oz growler over a period of several days (maybe longer but I've not tried longer). Many have expressed an opinion that there is no need for these - "just drink it with a friend". But I like being able to pick up a local growler on my way home from work and drink it over the next few days with no loss in quality. The operation of the growltap is a bit finicky but you can master it pretty quickly. It is important to keep it clean so it adds some extra overhead in time and effort but it is not excessive.
  17. denver10

    denver10 Poo-Bah (2,931) Nov 17, 2010 New Mexico

    I have had growlers that go flat < 24 hrs afer opening and drinking my first pour and growlers that stay strong 72 hours after my first pour. Not sure I have tested beyond that 72 hour window yet.
  18. emount91

    emount91 Initiate (0) Aug 28, 2015 Connecticut

    32oz growlers = 1 sitting vessel
    64oz growlers = 2 sittings vessel (back to back days)

    if you don't open them and leave them in the refrigerator, I've found you have about 1.5 weeks to crack it.
    TonyLema1 likes this.
  19. Dweedlebug

    Dweedlebug Disciple (347) Feb 28, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I've never opened a growler and not finished it in one sitting and I think the longest I've kept one before opening it was about 4 days. Why get a full gallon growler if you're not going to drink it? Just get one or two 32's instead.
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  20. edward_boumil

    edward_boumil Initiate (0) Jun 28, 2015 New York

    Lol that is great advice but is parafilm something that is easily obtainable? I use this in my lab all the time and was under the impression that it was lab equipment and not something you could buy at say walmart. I will try this though since I have tons of it.
  21. dbauer78

    dbauer78 Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2012 Pennsylvania

    The sooner you drink it the better it is. Working at a brew pub occasionally I let one sit around for longer than I should but have had some stay good for over 2 weeks, with just a screw top but to be sure I always try to drink them fresh nothing like opening up a growler you were looking forward to and it being flat.

    as for these they do help but only help and are also very expensive and thus not many breweries don't have them.
    crowlers are also an option but once again expensive and I'm not sure that they are much better either.
  22. marshmeli

    marshmeli Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2012 New York

    I have no problems holding growlers up to 3-4 weeks including fills from HF, Treehouse, Other Half, Tired Hands, New England. I have even had some hoppy stuff last longer than that. I always give the screw tops an extra turn. I think only one or 2 times have i not finished a full growler myself, i think it may not be able to, once i pour the glass i cap it right away and put it back in the fridge, can usually open the next day and should be OK, with maybe a little carb difference
  23. Edie

    Edie Initiate (0) Jun 5, 2011 Oklahoma

    home brewer here, we fill, cap, then i'll use electrical tape to seal. kind of stretch out the tape as I wrap. creates a sort
    of shrink wrap.

    this will last 4-5 days. haven't found anything that helps once its opened.
  24. TonyLema1

    TonyLema1 Poo-Bah (1,932) Nov 19, 2008 South Carolina

    We use a Pegas CraftTap system, first comes a blast of CO2, then the beer, then top it off with more CO2, to create a blanket against oxygen, then cap it...I've keep beer fresh and carbonated in a swing-top 32-oz bottle for 2+ months. After opening it, you're on borrowed to a day and a half tops and the beer will be flat. Some styles, that aren't as carbonated (some stouts) seem to stay OK for 2 or more days
  25. IceAce

    IceAce Savant (923) Jan 8, 2004 California

    There is a reason that Garrett Oliver refers to the growler as, "The ultimate beer destruction device".

    As usual, you have to weigh the Pros and the Cons.

    • Most brewers don't purge the O² from growlers prior to filling, resulting in instant oxidation issues. Others, and I'm looking at you Noble Aleworks in Anaheim, do an excellent job of purging the vessel with CO² prior to filling.

    • The growler must be counter pressure filled, again to avoid exposure to air and reduce foaming issues.

    • Growlers must be 'capped on foam' to ensure no extraneous air has entered the bottle.

    • The empty space in the neck (called ullage) must be kept to a reasonable minimum. Although no ullage would seem to be preferred, there has to be a gap to allow for expansion of the liquid should it warm over time.

    • Caps must be air-tight. I prefer swing-tops, but have had issues with my stainless swing-top growler prior to doubling up on the rubber seals. Threaded caps should always be given an extra turn.

    • Next to oxygen, temperature and light are the two biggest enemies of beer. I bring a smallish cooler ½ full of ice so my growler stays cold and dark. Tossing a growler in the back seat of a car in Southern California truly turns said growler into a "beer destruction device".

    • Once home, the growler goes into the refrigerator until consumed and I'll usually double-check the screw cap one more time.

    • An opened growler is a commitment. Once pouring has commenced, the beer is not going to be as the brewer intended the next day. Plan ahead and share with a friend if you must, but never rate a beer out of a day-old, pre-opened growler.

    • An empty growler needs to be sanitized asap. Not tomorrow, not next Saturday...but now. I'll leave mine filled with sanitizer for 48 hours (no ullage) and then replace the sanitizer with clear water until the day arrives to go refill it.

    Crazy? Over the top? Obsessive? OCD?

    Maybe. But remember, my goal is to enjoy beer just as the brewer intended it. Since he slaved over that beer for close to a month, isn't it worth it to take a few minutes of our time to ensure that the brewer (and the resulting taster) isn't disappointed? :slight_frown:
  26. Nittybeat

    Nittybeat Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2015 California

    I always tell my customers to drink them asap.

    I've never held onto one for very long but I've heard customers tell me the beer tastes great after a few weeks but I don't believe it.
    jeffgott likes this.
  27. Davey-C

    Davey-C Initiate (0) Jan 9, 2016 New York

    Besides carbonation the other big issue is keeping growlers clean. As soon as I kick a growler I rinse well with water and store with CAP OFF. Then I rinse well before I fill. In the event the growler gets funky, it held a sour, or I will be filling and not consuming within a couple days I will go the extra mile and sanitize with Star-San and give a quick scrub with a carboy/bottle brush.
    jeffgott likes this.
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,611) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    It is strongly dependent on how the growler is filled.

    The optimum growler fill is via a growler filling station where the growler is double purged with CO2 and then counter-pressure filled. This is essentially the same as a quality bottle filling line at a production brewery. A growler filled this way will last a long(er) time.

    For your viewing pleasure:

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  29. Ericness

    Ericness Devotee (415) Nov 21, 2012 Massachusetts

    These things are awesome. Saw one at Medusa Brewing here in MA and couldn't stop watching it.
  30. jeffgott

    jeffgott Zealot (540) Feb 15, 2015 New Jersey

    I am going to laminate these instructions @IceAce and carry them with me to all future Breweries where I may fill a growler, assuming they don't have cans/bottles available. These seem to be the best guidelines I've seen to date. Thanks

  31. slobes

    slobes Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2009 Massachusetts

    At Medusa, we've had reports of beer maintaining proper carbonation for periods longer than a month. With this machine, the biggest variable is the inconsistency amongst caps. We'll soon be switching to the plastic poly-seal format in hopes to see better cap "seal" consistency. Nonetheless, fresh beer should be had fresh!
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  32. Davidstan

    Davidstan Aspirant (288) May 24, 2014 Alabama

    Yep, my experience with pressure flip cap growler is 3 to 4 days and you are good.. Past that you can see a decline. Haven't tried not opening it, whats the point :slight_smile:
  33. bylerteck

    bylerteck Poo-Bah (3,353) May 17, 2009 Canada (ON)

    We co2 purge our growlers and recommend drinking within 3 weeks of filling. Because they're screw cap they oxidize after that time.

    Draught growlers seem like a pain. Would you drink a pitcher 6 hours after you bought it?
  34. woodchipper

    woodchipper Poo-Bah (1,537) Oct 25, 2005 Connecticut

    Non-BA friends have come up to me proud to tell me they have their first growler. Sometimes accompanied by something like "yea, my brother in-law brought it down from some far place two weeks ago, would you like to try some next week?".

    Although not entirely accurate, I usually respond in terms anyone can understand- Think of growler beer like a gallon of milk.. when did you buy it?...when did you open it?... what does it smell like?..this is a perishable thing. Would you drink milk you bought 3-weeks ago?
    JoshVelez likes this.
  35. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,611) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Is this the type of cap you are referencing?


  36. thatoneguymike

    thatoneguymike Meyvn (1,162) Sep 18, 2012 Georgia

    long story short (and one of my favorite to tell), a package of Treehouse growlers got lost along its merry way to my house by USPS and showed up 5 months later. They were still well carbed and delicious. Swing-top growlers, if it makes any difference, so I swear by those now.

    As always though, fresh is best, and I always consume growlers same day that they're opened.
    HopsAreDaMan likes this.
  37. Strangestbrewer

    Strangestbrewer Initiate (76) Oct 17, 2014 Oregon

    Get a brauler, had one last 5 weeks before I cracked it.

    But usually I consume in day of/next day and once it's opened it has to go.
  38. Moose90

    Moose90 Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2012 Washington


    These are the worst, they are a good enough idea, and look great. But I have had more growlers destroyed by these caps than I have had growlers saved by them. They either don't seal all the way and leak, or they get put on the threads wrong, over torqued, and end up destroying the growler to the point that there are glass shards everywhere and the growler gets drain poured and thrown in the trash. I will never use these again nor advocate that anyone use them.

    Just use the standard metal cap and drink your growler within 48 hours, it doesn't need to be difficult.
  39. Strangestbrewer

    Strangestbrewer Initiate (76) Oct 17, 2014 Oregon

    Weird, I love these ones, they keep for 1-2 weeks vs regular metal caps, never had any broken glass or anything.
    timotao likes this.
  40. timotao

    timotao Disciple (303) Sep 16, 2013 New York

    I've never had a problem with these caps.
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