Gear Test: Growlers | Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine
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Gear Test: Growlers

We tested 5 growlers and 1 mini-keg for their ability to maintain temperature and seal. Here are the results.

Gear Test: Growlers Primary Image

Remember when your options for growlers consisted of brown glass or clear glass? Taking good care of your beer is easier than ever with these new-school stainless-steel growlers (plus one mini-keg for you prolific types). The double-wall insulation and a plethora of options for pressurizing mean your beer will stay fresher longer. We filled each of these with fresh 1020 Pale Ale straight from the Fort Collins Brewery (at a measured 38°F/3°C), then let them sit unrefrigerated for 24 hours to test their ability to maintain temperature and seal. A blind panel tasted samples from each one the following day. Here are their thoughts.

Hydroflask

64 oz. » $54.99
40 oz. » $36.99
32 oz. » $33.99

Temp: 52°F/11°C
Carb: Moderate
Notes: The textured coating on the body looks great, the vessel is an attractive shape, and the lid is easy to grip. On the down side, we noticed liquid pooling at the base of the growler and telltale drip marks down the side when we arrived at the office the following morning. This appears to be a result of leakage at the cap. Still, that leakage did not significantly impact taste, as the beer was sufficiently carbed and a reasonable temperature.

Drink Tanks

128 oz. » $89.00
64 oz. » $69.00
Keg Cap System » $45.00

Temp: 54°F/12°C
Carb: Lowest
Notes: The pressure blow-off valve on the DrinkTanks Keg Cap initially bubbled, then settled down (the valve blows off at 10psi to prevent overcarbonation or damage to the growler), and the growler held carbonation without charging with the included CO2 system. Once charged (after the initial test), we loved the ability to pour from the picnic tap. It will be even more useful with the larger, 128-oz. version.

Klean Kanteen

64 oz. » $69.95
32 oz. » $54.95

Temp: 51°F/10°C
Carb: Highest
Notes: The Klean Kanteen was the favorite of our panel, as it maintained the best perceived temperature and carbonation of the units tested. The narrower neck was harder to clean but allowed for a better pour into our tasting glasses with less spillage. If you don’t need the temperature regulation of a double-wall insulated growler, the single-wall version closes with the same mechanism but will save you $20.

Brewtek

64 oz. » $65.00
CO2 filler sold separately

Temp: 51°F/10°C
Carb: Moderate
Notes: Unlike other growlers in the test, the Brew-Tek top screws into interior threads rather than onto exterior threads. This made it difficult to open, but it did maintain a strong seal. A built-in Schrader valve lets you pump CO2 into the growler to reduce oxidation, but no blow-off valve and no method for venting oxygen mean one should be very careful when using it.

Fifty/Fifty

64 oz. » $49.99
40 oz. » $29.99

Temp: 54°F/12°C
Carb: Moderate
Notes: The slim shape and flattering textured color coating on the Fifty/Fifty makes it one of the more attractive growlers, and while it's similar in design to the Hydroflask, we did not have cap-seal issues. It was a middle-of-the-road performer in temp and carb, but our quick Web search turned up some online deals for significantly less than MSRP.

Picnic Keg

2.5 gal. keg » $129.99
Keg & kit » $199.99

Temp: N/A
Carb: N/A
Notes: This isn’t a growler, but we’re big fans of this smaller format ball-lock keg from Monsterbrew.com. The kit comes complete with a gas disconnect with CO2 dispenser and a beer disconnect with attached picnic tap. If the party you’re attending requires 320 oz of beer rather than 64, this is a good (but a bit pricey) choice.

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