Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Growler Shelf Life

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by 4thelvofbeer, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. 4thelvofbeer

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Posts:
    116
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Virginia
    Bottom line up front: How long is a growler of beer good for?

    I recently completed a trade for a growler of beer...RareR DOS. It is a few weeks old. What is the experience out there on holding/shelf life of growlers? How long do they last? Is there an optimal time for consumption? Should I hold it a few more weeks/months?

    Any info would be greatly appreciated as my growler experience has been limited (to buy...bring home...consume, if not immediately within a day or two!)

    Thanks,
    Rich
     
  2. mhksuccess

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2012
    Posts:
    730
    Likes Received:
    3,518
    Location:
    California
    Well as far as I know although it differ depending on how they fill the growler. I would drink within a week of filling as the carbonation will lessen with time making it more flat. Growlers are not meant to be stored after beer is poured from the keg there is only a small window where it will taste as good as it did from the original source. With that being said I recently drank an older growler fill of stone beer that did taste ok.
     
    dsal89 likes this.
  3. cubbyswans

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Posts:
    432
    Likes Received:
    524
    Location:
    Missouri
    Depends on how well the cap is sealed too. Every time I get a growler from a brew pub, I tighten down the cap. There always seems to be some room to do so. I have had growlers stored for weeks in the fridge with no noticeable carbonation or taste issues. Since you can't be sure of how it was filled, or treated since, I would consume it sooner than later. It's not going to get any better, that is certain.
     
    woemad, frazbri, dsal89 and 1 other person like this.
  4. ZPag

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Posts:
    30
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    New York
    I find that most growlers, once open have about a 2-3 day life span where I still consider it fresh. Past that they start to lose their freshness and carbonation. However growlers with swing tops are usually a little better on that. Probably a week or a week and a half. Again I am speaking from opening. The twist top growlers I really wouldn't hold on to it much longer before drinking. As a previous poster said sooner than later for sure.
     
  5. Retsinis

    Subscriber

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Posts:
    544
    Likes Received:
    422
    Location:
    California
    Rogue sells filled growlers, commerically, that are distributed to stores, and they are not the only one to do so either, so there is something to be garnered if there are commerical breweries shipping product that way, they must feel the product holds up a little on the shelf.

    I've also peronally filled and stored swing/flip to growlers for a month before, and they all held up just fine, (have had worse luck with twist tops though, personally) Also had a friend once bring a year old growler fill of Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine, also, very tasty, and carbed just fine.

    Now, with that said, a lot of growlers are best fresh, especially IPA's of course, and because how it was filled, sealed, etc. are all variables that could shorten how long it will hold up, so there is less guarantee then a bottle.

    Now, as far how long does it last after it's opened, about a day or two at best, but sometimes not even that long.
     
    checktherhyme likes this.
  6. johnyb

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2012
    Posts:
    556
    Likes Received:
    2,571
    Location:
    Florida
    I spoke with Doug, the brewer at Peg's and he said that they should hold up very well if unopened for a few months. However, he also said he felt that this batch was at it's prime when bottled, so drink up my friend.
     
  7. greyghost86

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2012
    Posts:
    57
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Delaware
    I know for me personally, if I am grabing a growler it is meant to be consumed within the week....so I don't have any experience with anything longer than that.
     
  8. LonJandis

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2012
    Posts:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Had a growler yesterday which was filled about a week and a half ago, and then it went in my checked baggage on a plane with me. Tasted great, no loss in carbonation as far as I could tell.
     
  9. daysinthewake

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2010
    Posts:
    850
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    Location:
    California
  10. RDMII

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    2,541
    Likes Received:
    1,705
    Location:
    Georgia
    If bottom filled and properly capped (steel cap with wax seal) I've seen a growler last five months easily. But not everyone bottom fills and few people snug the cap tightly when sealed. I wouldn't trust any fill besides the one I do myself.
     
  11. hornsup

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2012
    Posts:
    152
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    Virginia
    Always heard once opened, within 48-72 hours and if unopened then consume within 7-8 days.
     
  12. ncaudle

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Posts:
    1,388
    Likes Received:
    835
    Location:
    Virginia
    the RareR DOS growlers are swing tops and on the label it says drink fresh, cellar at own risk.
    we opened one this past weekend and it's phenomenal!
     
  13. checktherhyme

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    Posts:
    1,083
    Likes Received:
    1,239
    Location:
    Washington
    Yeah, it really all depends how it was filled. If the growler was purged with CO2, bottom filled, and properly sealed, it will last months. If the cap is not sealed correctly or it had oxygen in the growler before it was filled, the time will be way less. I'd invite a friend over and make it the next beer you drink, just to be safe.
     
  14. proseberry

    Joined:
    May 2, 2008
    Posts:
    244
    Likes Received:
    82
    Location:
    Illinois
    Hello. I get my growlers from Piece Pizza/Brewery and Half Acre Brewery in Chicago. Both are screw tops, and are filled with precision to the very top. I've never had any problems, but I do put them in an iced up cooler right after the pouring, and we usually consume the whole thing in one sitting (sometimes I pull a solo!). Whatever drops are left the next day usually has no oomph left and we'll save it for using it to cook with. Thanks.
     
    4thelvofbeer likes this.
  15. CityofBals

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2012
    Posts:
    464
    Likes Received:
    974
    Location:
    Illinois
    My first time purchasing growlers, I purchased two 32oz growlers of Mathias from Haymarket. They were bottom-filled from the draft (who knows how clean the tube was), drove 20 minutes to my house, and put them in the fridge. I opened one nearly immediately, and it tasted fine. I opened the other one the next day, and there was a significant change in the aroma of the beer, and it was slightly different tasting (as a fresh IPA does to a 2 week old IPA). As a result of that experience, I will only buy growlers if they are counter-pressure filled or to be consumed within 24 hours.
     
  16. PangaeaBeerFood

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Posts:
    431
    Likes Received:
    246
    Location:
    New York
    Growlers are tricky because it depends on the type of growler and how it's filled. If you use a swing-top growler in one of those fancy vacuum filling systems, it's as good as coming off a bottling line. You could cellar those for literally years. Your average beer store filling plain old glass jugs with screw caps? If it's expertly filled, weeks to months if it stays sealed. If it's shoddily filled, you have a day or two, tops. And in any case, once you crack them over the ballgame is over, best get yo drinkin' pants on.
     
    CityofBals likes this.
  17. egrace84

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2012
    Posts:
    1,688
    Likes Received:
    19,390
    Location:
    Illinois
    Any beer, any style, drink it asap for the best tasting results.
     
    tgchief and checktherhyme like this.
  18. Siggy125

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Posts:
    734
    Likes Received:
    1,016
    Location:
    California
    That may be your opinion. But I have had beers that were better with some age than when first bottled. "Better" is very subjective.
     
    DeanMoriarty likes this.
  19. JackHorzempa

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2005
    Posts:
    18,871
    Likes Received:
    22,533
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    As many folks have opined, it is highly dependent on how the growler is filled. The optimum way to fill a growler is via CO2 purging followed up by a counter-pressure fill. A growler filled this way should have a shelf life akin to a bottled beer (several months). Here is a video from Victory which illustrates this process.
     
    tgchief likes this.
  20. WagonCircler

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    Posts:
    553
    Likes Received:
    488
    Location:
    New York
    I fill all my homebrew a from kegs to swing tops ( counter pressure with a beer gun) and they seem to last forever.
     
  21. woemad

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2003
    Posts:
    2,482
    Likes Received:
    12,910
    Location:
    Washington
    Like others have said, it depends on how it's filled, but most of the time I've found 1-3 days after filling is fine if filled properly and tightly sealed.

    There is one brewery where I live that pours from the tap into a pitcher, then slowly into the growler. If you ever witness such a pour into your growler, race the traffic home and get started on the growler as you open your front door!
     
  22. jesskidden

    Subscriber

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2005
    Posts:
    7,780
    Likes Received:
    18,011
    Location:
    New Jersey
    You left out the part that goes "...put your wallet back in your back pocket, leave the growler on the bar"

     
    woemad likes this.
  23. JohnnyP3

    Subscriber

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Posts:
    52
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Alaska
    After I read "bottom line up front," I thought must be military, and sure enough . . . .

    Anyways, to answer your question, I generally agree with what most folks have said. Without knowing what method was used to fill the growler, I would start consuming within a few days and finish the growler within 24 hours once opened if possible to get the best experience. Loss of carbonation is the main problem once opened.

    Thanks for your service.
     
    4thelvofbeer likes this.
  24. 4thelvofbeer

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Posts:
    116
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Virginia
    Thanks for everyone's input! I popped open a RareR DOS that was labelled 21 Dec 2012 on 11 Jan 2013. I was absolutely fine....no problems. The RareR was great!! Thanks again Hunter!

    Rich
     
  25. Liquidswordz

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2012
    Posts:
    19
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Texas
    I got a bomber of Double Galaxy filled at Hill Farm, any idea how long those last?
     
  26. dickieb

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Posts:
    38
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    I got 2 weeks out of a hill farmstead growler no problem
     
    Liquidswordz likes this.
  27. smchenry75

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2010
    Posts:
    116
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Indiana
    I had a growler of Sun King Timmie (Russian imperial stout) filled that I stored in my beer fridge for exactly one year. The growler was properly sanitized, bottom filled and had cap tightened. At one year, it hadn't skipped a beat. It was phenomenal and had was still completely carbonated! I kept a growler of founders frangelica mtn brown filled and stored in the same manner for 6 months. Completely fine. No issues. The key is proper sanitization, filling and storage.
     
    DeanMoriarty likes this.
  28. ejeffer11

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    Posts:
    124
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    New York
    (sometimes I pull a solo!)

    I like your style!
     
  29. palma

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2003
    Posts:
    50
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    New York
    good point about growlers being filled and sold commercially by the brewpub to stores. If they are filled professionally and capped with minimal air left in the container they can last for months.
     
  30. chefkevlar

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2010
    Posts:
    813
    Likes Received:
    628
    Location:
    South Carolina
    If it's sealed right and filled right and stored right they have the same shelf life as a bottle. I recently opened a year old growler of an imperial stout that had been in my fridge and it was perfectly carbonated and tasty.
     
  31. beerinmaine

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Posts:
    421
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    Maine
    I asked Dave (owner) @ Marshall Wharf about this. While he can't recommend it or guarantee results, he said they've opened growlers after several years and they were just fine.They bottom fill from the tap and use the good plastic screw-on caps.
     
  32. beerinmaine

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Posts:
    421
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    Maine
    A practical, real-life example: I bought a growler of Oxbow Freestyle #7 at the end of July. Belgian stout, 7% ABV, bottom-filled from the tap in the brewery with no special equipment, capped with a normal white metal cap.

    It got shoved to the back of the fridge for a month, then I decided to see how it would be in 6 months.

    Opened last night at 6 months old. It was perfectly good - not oxidized, not flat, nicely aged and similar to the same beer aged for the same time in a keg, tasted a month or so ago at a fest.

    Nobody will recommend this, because you can't be sure of the outcome, but a growler CAN last quite a long time.
     
  33. jfh

    jfh
    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Posts:
    78
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    California
    In my experience, a week is fine, unopened, and filled to the top.

    from the Russian River Brewing web page:
    What is the shelf life of a growler?
    Unopened and kept refrigerated = one month.
    Once opened = 2 to 4 days (tops). As you pour a beer from a growler, air displaces the beer inside the growler and thus the remaining beer in the growler starts to oxidize quickly.

    In all cases, a growler should be kept cold and if you are traveling a long distance from the pub to your destination it should be kept cold in route.
     
  34. WagonCircler

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    Posts:
    553
    Likes Received:
    488
    Location:
    New York
    I just drank a homebrew swing top that I filled with a beer gun in October. IIPA. It sounded like a shotgun when I opened it up and tasted amazing.
     
  35. Dmbphoenix

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    Posts:
    79
    Likes Received:
    56
    Location:
    New York
    I just picked up a growler of Sam Adams Gingerbread stout last night Jan 21.

    Looking to have it on Superbowl.

    My experience has been with a white metal cap:
    I get it filled, Cap tight, then "saran-wrap" the cap and neck and fasten it with a rubber band, then put it in the fridge on its side OR upside down.

    It has not failed me yet...


    Ive also understood that Stouts and darker beers will go longer than Ales and IPAs.

    YMMV
     
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe