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Drink614 debate: Growlers, crowlers, bottles, kegs, cans—which is best?

Growlers, crowlers, bottles, kegs, and cans. Which is best?

There are some many ways to take home beer these days, it opens the debate as to which is best.

First, let’s clear up a big misconception: draft beer is not different from bottle beer.

It’s not more or less carbonated, nor is the recipe different.

Beer is carbonated in the tank, and everything is served from that. Generally this tank is referred to as a “bright” tank, but some brewers package directly from the fermentor.

If you have a kegerator at home, kegged beer is the way to go. It’s a better value, the beer will stay fresher, longer because it is kept in a refrigerated environment which is free of oxygen.

Pulling your beers from a tap into a clean glass is the best way to release carbonation and enjoy the full experience of beer. Most craft brewers will happily sell you kegged beer. If they don’t, the distributors will.

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If you like beer, and can settle on drinking one for a couple of weeks, a kegerator is not a bad investment. Fresh draft beer at home? Yes, please.

After that, cans have a slight edge over bottles when it comes to storage. This advantage is technical.

Most local craft beer is so fresh, the scientific advantage to cans is negligible, but cans are better at excluding light and air from the equation.

Most brewers would prefer cans, but canning lines are expensive and aluminum prices can vary. If a brewer already has a bottling line in place, converting to cans is even more expensive.

Cans do have a smaller transportation footprint, and aluminum is more readily recycled than glass, so cans seem to be the future of craft beer.

Of course the greenest way to get beer, is to pick it up at the nearest taproom.

If you’re taking home beer from the tap room, you’ll notice more places offering Crowlers. These are 32 ounce cans that are filled at the bar and sealed to order.

They do keep somewhat longer than glass growlers, which is nice, and they are recyclable.

But the environmentally sound option is still the reusable growler.

Sixty-four ounces is roughly four pints of beer, so you’re either committing to a serious imbibing session within a few days, or you’re sharing. 

Thirty-two howlers aren’t a bad option either.

If this is your scene, invest in some high end containers with wide mouths, and replaceable gaskets. This makes it easier to sanitize and fill the growler.

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