The correct way to fill a growler?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Savagefred, Jul 5, 2013.

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  1. Savagefred

    Savagefred Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2012 South Carolina

    We have recently built a new 20 tap system at our store and I keep receiving suggestions. A lot of people keep forcing this tube thing on me but I have no problem pouring a growler to the rim with little or no waste. With a good angle and keeping my eye on the beer it pours perfect.
    I've been countered with "The tube stops the oxidation to your pour so even if its foamier then the the tilt, its better."

    They could be right. I am just trying to understand it. The tube has air in it originally and so does the growler. Beer seems to circulate inside of the bottle when its being filled, not stay in layers.

    By using the tube to pour, does the beer that is being filled inside of the poured beer really stay less oxidized than the rest? And is it a significant enough reason to not continue to pour the tilt way?
    TonyLema1 likes this.
  2. afrokaze

    afrokaze Zealot (581) Jun 12, 2009 Oregon

    You want to minimize how much carbonation comes out of the beer before you cap it, and the tube is considered the best cheap option, otherwise you'd have to invest in a counter pressure filling machine to get the best possible seal. The tube keeps the beer from hitting the inside of the growler and releasing carbonation. It's really easy and worth doing, just keep a few lengths of 1ft food grade vinyl tubing in StarSan solution, cap on foam and seal em with electrical tape (I'm sure you already do lol)
  3. geocool

    geocool Disciple (335) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    The more the beer is agitated and ripples down the side of the glass, the more oxidation you'll get and CO2 will be lost. It's not just about getting the growler filled with minimal foaming, it's also about keeping oxidation to a minimum so the beer can last a while inside the growler before it's opened.

    The better places will purge the growler with CO2 before filling. If you've got a 20 tap system how hard could it be to run one CO2 line up as well?

    Finally, I'd say that even if it didn't make one bit of difference, it will still benefit your business to show the customers that you are responsive to their suggestions and taking care to provide the best possible product. And it's a super tiny investment to make.
  4. ncaudle

    ncaudle Initiate (0) May 28, 2010 Virginia

    the $1 for the cost of a tube will greatly improve the quality of a growler fill compared to straight from a tap
  5. RochefortChris

    RochefortChris Poo-Bah (1,819) Oct 2, 2012 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Also the pressure should be different for style of beer. Some styles need more and some need less. Also make sure the growler isn't hot, for example if someone left it in their car. That will cause a lot of head and you'll lose more beer.
    MostlyNorwegian likes this.
  6. Savagefred

    Savagefred Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2012 South Carolina

    I am going to run the tube from the CO2. I do want the beer to last longer for myself and the customers. Thanks for the response.
  7. dirtyfab

    dirtyfab Initiate (0) Oct 21, 2004 New York

    I fill growlers from my bother's kegerator all the time. I never use a tube. Always just tilting & keeping a careful eye. Almost never have a problem.
    Kadonny likes this.
  8. Chi_Stake

    Chi_Stake Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2014 Pennsylvania

    I've been filling growlers with tubes for a long time and not having an issue. There is however a point of contention that I'm curious about.

    There seem to be two schools of thought about whether or not to leave some space:
    1. Leaving space (an inch or so, even if its foam) apparently produces a better carbonated beer when pouring into a glass. There might be a possibility the beer will oxidize because of that space.
    2. Topping off (removing the tube and pouring until there is no foam) wastes more beer but removes the risk of oxidizing the beer, it may however cause poor carbonation.

    My standard procedure is to save beer by leaving some foam and assume the person is pouring the growler in the near future. If they are someone who does trades or plans on keeping the growler sealed, I will ask if they'd like the growler topped off. I think oxidation is more of a time risk rather than an immediate one.

    Anybody have some thoughts, input or experience in this regard? I'd appreciate the info.
    LehighAce06 and Tylertut like this.
  9. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    The less the beer is stressed on its journey to the vessel of its destination, i.e. the smoother the journey. The better and happier it, and your customer will be. So, the tube is actually a great option and is something of an industry stand by. Also, by filling your growler to the tip top, you are doing two things. Overfilling it by at least 3 ounces, and you are also not leaving headspace which could in turn affect carbonation, or create a situation where there's no place for it to go and BOOM. I doubt that'll happen, but......
    It's easier and healthier for the beer to cap on foam, because that is, in essence, scrubbing out any oxygen that could be left in the vessel. The tube places beer right at the bottom from the get go, and allows a clean uninterrupted path to it. Whereas taking it straight off the tap will express it, and send the beer wildly tumbling down and releasing co2 out of solution on the way, rendering an appropriately carbonated beverage as something a bit flabby and closer to a real ale for mouth feel and carbonation levels. Using a tube will enable oxygen to be pushed out as the foam rises with your fill.
    Givemebeer, gopens44 and drtth like this.
  10. woodchipper

    woodchipper Poo-Bah (1,563) Oct 25, 2005 Connecticut
    Society Trader

    I like the physics of the tube however I don't know why the following just popped in my head while revisiting this thread---- what about this scenario. A customer brings in a dirty growler. Looks clean, smells clean, but is contaminated with some nasty bacteria. Hose goes in, beer enters, beer sloshes around bacteria, growler is filled, bacteria stays on hose. What about the next person who happen to have a sterile growler?
  11. Greels

    Greels Initiate (0) May 6, 2013 Colorado

    I hope that wherever you are getting your growler filled is cleaning (or at least rinsing) the hose and then sanitizing it before they use it. If not, they should be.
    sharpski, Dravin, Hrodebert and 5 others like this.
  12. Chi_Stake

    Chi_Stake Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2014 Pennsylvania

    It seems that my theory of trade or time is correct unless someone can come up with new evidence. A little space (due to foam) is not a bad thing if you're forcing out oxygen with the tube. If you're traveling a ways over time, topped off is the ideal.
    p.s. Don't be surprised if you get charged like a dollar extra for topping off a 72oz Victory or similar. The standard large growler is 64oz, another 8 ounces for travel and time security should be worth it. Until I complete my own experiment, the debate rages...
  13. Chi_Stake

    Chi_Stake Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2014 Pennsylvania

    By the way, you're responsible for a growler once you buy one. It's yours... that's not hard. Take some responsibility.
    mikeyrb1 likes this.
  14. doktorhops

    doktorhops Poo-Bah (2,014) Jan 12, 2011 Australia

    Fill halfway, let it rest if there is too much head, otherwise keep going - you're doing a great job man, in fact pour yourself a pint - then once it is done give the growler to your lucky customer, easy as. :wink:

    Never heard of the tube thing but I can see how that would work.
  15. JDbudget87

    JDbudget87 Initiate (0) Oct 9, 2014 Arkansas

    There's a liquor store that recently opened up here with a growler filling station is supposed to take care of that for you. I've only purchased one growler because I just found out about it a week ago, but they told me you buy a growler, they fill it with beer, you bring the growler back when you want a re-fill and they take your already used growler and wash it while filling up a fresh growler with your next beer of choice. They said they have a special dishwasher (it may just be a restaurant/industrial type dishwasher) they use to wash all the growlers.
  16. floridadrift

    floridadrift Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2014 Florida

    Great thread!
  17. Chi_Stake

    Chi_Stake Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2014 Pennsylvania

    If the brewpub you plan to visit is nice enough to fill a non-brand growler and they don't have a fancy wash station, do you lay down and shed baby tears?
  18. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Poo-Bah (1,671) Jul 27, 2013 Texas
    Society Trader

    The tube is absolutely key. You want the full into the growler to be as smooth as possible - turbulence introduces oxygen.

    Think of it as the anti-wine. Wine drinkers WANT to aerate wine, and there are all kinds of devices to turbulate the wine and introduce oxygen. From Venturi type nozzles to decanters, to long pours through the air...these are all things to avoid with beer that you're trying to preserve.
    Ranbot likes this.
  19. beardown2489

    beardown2489 Zealot (502) Oct 5, 2012 Illinois

    That product is starsan. It sanitizes the bottle. BUT, is does not sterilize it like bleach or something of that nature.

    As long as you rinse the growler with hot water after completion, then their starsan solution will be all you need. But if you do not rinse the growler out you are risking mold and bacteria growth which may not be killed by a quick rinse with their starsan solution.

    Always wash your growler with hot water. Never put soap in it. Hot water will do the trick and soaps can leave a residual coating that would taint your beer
  20. Kanger

    Kanger Initiate (0) Sep 3, 2013 New York

    Counter-Pressure system all the way.
  21. Mike_Aguirre

    Mike_Aguirre Initiate (0) Jan 20, 2015 Mexico

    Those systems are designed for bar staff to fill lots of growlers in a better way. And by bar staff I mean people who usually don´t care about service or quality of product because it´s a temp job or something like that. It´s the same thing with chilled glassware, it for bar staff to serve beer better without putting a lot of care in it. The tube certainly helps, there are also some growler faucets designed specifically for that, but most brewers fill growlers directly to the usual faucet with no problem at all.
  22. PorterPro125

    PorterPro125 Champion (851) Jan 19, 2013 Canada (NB)

    One of the local breweries that I frequent often uses the tube method. They say the carbonation in the growler will keep well for around 48 hrs. Although I'd say anything over 24 hrs is risking it, it does yield great results.
  23. teraflx

    teraflx Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2013 Arizona

    I use a tube every time I fill my homebrew and leave just a tad bit of foam headspace when I am done. Cap it quickly and use electric tape to seal the cap. I have had homebrew growlers still fresh and carbonated a month later. Pour slow and make sure your growler is nice and clean and you should have no issues.
    #23 teraflx, Apr 10, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  24. MaltLickyWithTheCandy

    MaltLickyWithTheCandy Initiate (0) Apr 22, 2013 Maryland

    Counter pressure system. Growler will stay carbonated for months.
    oldn00b likes this.
  25. corbmoster

    corbmoster Initiate (153) Dec 15, 2014 Texas

    Would that be OK to just leave the vinyl tube in Star San? When I have done that, this gunky film builds up on it. It rinses off in hot water easily enough. But still.
  26. pat61

    pat61 Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota

  27. paulys55

    paulys55 Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2010 Pennsylvania

    If by "Those systems" you are referring to counter pressure fillers, then you are way off base. Anyone who has a counter pressure system obviously cares about the service and quality of their product enough to spend thousands of dollars on a machine that gives you the best possible growler fill.
    LehighAce06 likes this.
  28. Aaron_Kerkvliet

    Aaron_Kerkvliet Initiate (0) Apr 17, 2014 Wisconsin

    I'd say most important is the cleanliness of your lines. I don't think most buy a growler and sit on it. When i'm buying a growler i'm usually planning to drink it within the next 6 hours or so. In this scenario I've found both methods of filling to be fine.
  29. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    I'm of the mind that if the growler is infected. There's going to be an off smell to it. Moreover though. The tube in question will basically be living in a bucket of starsan, acid or bleach whenever it's not in use, and also be receiving an occasional extended soak, or wash in +160ºF water as well.
  30. paulys55

    paulys55 Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2010 Pennsylvania

    As others have said, the tube helps minimize oxidation and maintains carbonation. Yes, there is air in the tube but the beer pushes it out as it fills the tube. Then, when the beer enters the growler through the fill tube, the small amount of head that forms on top of the beer protects the beer underneath it from oxygen and since the beer is coming out of the tube at the bottom of the growler, only the first bit of beer is exposed to air since the tube is submerged in beer once it starts to fill.
  31. oldn00b

    oldn00b Savant (904) Feb 23, 2015 Virginia

    I have yet to have a growler that I've held on to for months - actually most are opened in a couple of days. But I've been told that these systems are effectively like a bottling line - the beer will last as long as a bottle of said beer would which is just awesome. Like I said, I've never put it to the test. But I see a day coming where people will look at the whole tube approach as backwards and awful - folks refusing to buy growlers if these systems aren't used.
  32. Kadonny

    Kadonny Meyvn (1,401) Sep 5, 2007 Florida

    I've poured many a growler from my home system and sealed them with no tube. I take my time, tilt the growler for minimal disturbance and fill it up to the neck. The last 2 inches I pour the beer straight in to produce a little head and allow the head to foam out the top just a little. Cap quickly and I'm done. This should give you an inch or so of head inside the growler with no (or very, very little) oxygen in there. The head will die down, but no air will get in if sealed properly.

    No lie, I've had growlers last 2 years and more. I currently have a growler of BCBS that is approaching 2 years old sitting in my fridge. Granted, that is not the most carbonated beer ever, but the last one grolwer I opened of BCBS at Easter was still totally carbonated. Yes, I filled a few growlers years ago when I had it on tap :wink:.
  33. Brutaltruth

    Brutaltruth Poo-Bah (4,155) Mar 22, 2014 Ohio

    Ummmm-----to the top please! :grinning:
    Other than that the tube IF rinsed is just fine with me so as to keep the foaming from making the brew flat as a fritter.
    PatrickCT likes this.
  34. Chi_Stake

    Chi_Stake Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2014 Pennsylvania

    That's what I was looking for... still a warranted technique.
  35. Greywulfken

    Greywulfken Poo-Bah (5,443) Aug 25, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    Ok, I was gonna go with, "With beer" :rolling_eyes: lol :stuck_out_tongue:
    pat61 likes this.
  36. ChuckHardslab

    ChuckHardslab Disciple (353) Jan 25, 2012 Texas

    I homebrew and I accidentally left a length of tubing in my Star San bucket for about 4 weeks. It completely slimed the tube and ruined my bucket of sanitizer by making look milky and jacking with the pH.
  37. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,437) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Are these growlers you speak of screw-top or flip-top?
  38. beerjerk666

    beerjerk666 Poo-Bah (3,259) Aug 22, 2010 Florida
    Society Trader

    Using a tube and filling the growler to the top shows me that the brewery, brewpub, bar, etc. cares about the beer and the customer.
    Understood that you could be charged extra for filling a long neck flip top "Victory" growler to the top.
  39. AlexanderSelby

    AlexanderSelby Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2010 Maine

    Don't think anyone mentioned this...

    Purge the growler with CO2 first. Put tank next to your taps and hook up a regulated hose and give the bottle a quick blast before pouring.
    TonyLema1 likes this.
  40. Kadonny

    Kadonny Meyvn (1,401) Sep 5, 2007 Florida

    I've done both with equal success. I had a flip top last year of Bigfoot that I held for a year and it was still delicious (and carbonated). My BCBS's are screw tops.
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