Learn how to fill a growler the right way, and reduce wasting beer from foamy fills.
The best way to enjoy draft beer at home without the commitment and cost of buying a full keg of beer is a growler. They are also a great option if you have a kegerator at home or you are a homebrewer and want to take some of your beer with you to a party or event. Growlers are air-tight jugs, usually made of glass, ceramic or stainless steel, used to transport beer and other beverages served on tap in bulk. A typical beer growler holds 64 ounces, which is the same as four pints of beer.
The key to a great growler experience is proper filling. Properly filling a growler means limiting the amount of oxygen the beer is exposed to. Plus, a proper growler filling technique will greatly reduce the amount of beer wasted due to spillage and foaming.
Please note: For commercial establishments, consult your state and local laws before selling growlers for off-premise consumption. Some areas require certain protocols for sealing, labeling and/or cleaning growlers of draft beer for purchase.
Step-By-Step Instructions For The Best Way To Fill A Growler
Step 1A. Chill The Growler (optional)
Chill your growler for 15-20 minutes by placing it in a refrigerator. This is a good step to take if you’re filling a growler at home with your kegerator or if you are going straight to the brewery or store to get it filled, and it’s a short ride. This will help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that gets released from the beer during filling.
A room temperature growler is just as good, and it won’t significantly impact the quality of your beer. DO NOT freeze your growler, however, because ice crystals can form on the inside and cause the release of too much CO2 and create foam.
Step 1B. Rinse The Growler
You should clean your growler after every use, but also give a quick rinse with cold water before filling to remove any dust that may have accumulated during storage. This also helps to cool the surface of the growler if you weren’t able to chill it ahead of time.
Step 2: Attach A Growler Filler Tube To The Faucet
Placing the growler under a draft faucet, and filling it the same way you’d pour a pint is not recommended. This will create a lot of foam in your growler, expose your beer to more oxygen and probably make a big mess.
The best practice for filling a growler is to fill it from the bottom up with a growler filler tube. This greatly reduces the amount of foam created and limits the beer’s exposure to oxygen. That will allow your beer to stay fresher for longer in the growler.
A growler filler tube has a metal fitting that goes inside the draft faucet. Make sure you get a tube that specifically works with your faucet. Perlick faucets require a filler tube with a different size fitting. If you are unable to get a growler filler, then a 12-15” piece of ½” diameter vinyl tubing will also work.
Step 3: Fill The Growler
Once you have your filler tube attached and inserted inside your growler, open the faucet completely to begin filling the growler with beer. Most growlers have a fill line etched or printed on them so you know how far to fill them up.
Some places that fill growlers will purge the oxygen from the container before filling it by blasting the inside with CO2 for a few seconds. This is known as counter pressure filling, and it helps keep the beer carbonated longer.
Step 4: Secure The Cap
Secure the growler cap tightly immediately after you finish filling to keep as much carbonation inside the beer. Commercial establishments may need to place a seal over the cap depending on your state and local laws.
Step 5: Wipe Down The Growler
Wipe down the outside of the growler to clean off any beer that was spilled. You can also rinse it off with cold water before wiping it.
How Long Does Beer Last In A Growler
If you weren’t planning on consuming the contents of your growler right away then be sure to keep it refrigerated. Beer will stay fresh inside a sealed growler for about a week or two depending on the style of beer and the temperature it is stored at.
While it should go without saying, do not let your growler freeze. Growlers made from glass will crack and shatter if the beer inside of it freezes, and freezing beer will cause it to go flat no matter the material of your growler.
An opened growler is just like an open bottle of beer or a pint sitting on the bar. CO2 is being released as the beer is exposed to oxygen. You have about 24-48 hours to finish your opened growler before it starts to go flat.
How To Clean A Growler
Once you’ve finished your growler’s tasty contents the best practice is to rinse it out with hot water and then let it dry upside down. A growler collar can help keep your growler upright as it dries. If you rinse it out shortly after it is emptied, then your growler does not require any additional cleaning before filling again.
If you do manage to let your growler sit a while before rinsing it, then you will want to clean and sanitize it. Do not use fat or oil-based soaps, such as dish soap, as they can leave a film that will impact the taste of your beer. Use a detergent designed for cleaning growlers or bar glassware to clean them. Make sure to clean the inside of your growler cap as well.
Store growlers in a cool, dry area with the cap removed to prevent moisture from being trapped inside, which can cause bacteria to form. Leaving one in your car during the summer is not a great idea.
Growler Filling Stations
A growler filling station is an excellent option for craft beer stores or brewpubs that want to have an area dedicated to filling growlers. These are kegerator units with multiple faucets that can hold a number of kegs depending on size. A filling station allows you to have a selection of beers on tap to meet the needs and tastes of your customers.
Whether you are serving the public or just pouring pints at home, it’s handy to know how to properly fill a growler. That way everyone can have delicious draft beer whenever and wherever they want, and that’s the best part about growlers.
Dave Buchanan has been the Content Writer for KegWorks since June 2019. He has a fondness for craft beer that developed while working for a local beer distributor. Dave also worked for an area sports talk radio station for several years, and continues his broadcasting work as a motorsports announcer and indoor lacrosse reporter.