Are your glass growlers too heavy, bulky, and fragile? Then why not look to use an aluminum alternative, the crowler. A can + growler hybrid will soon be making the rounds at craft beer institutions in Florida.
But what exactly is a crowler?
It's basically a fancy marketing term for a big-ass 32-ounce can that is filled at the tap from a local brewery. It's draft beer in a portable growler sized can, and has been pioneered by the Ball Corporation and Colorado's Oskar Blues Brewery. Taprooms fill the cans, place them in a purging and lid fastening machine, apply the appropriate label, and send them off into the wild.
"When we first saw them online, we thought that it was bad ass," Cigar City Brewing's Vice President Justin Clark told us over the phone. "We reached out to Oskar Blues directly, and they were pretty stoked that we wanted to do this as well, so we got in touch with the right people and found out what we needed: a special seamer behind the bar."
Even with a small growler culture in South Florida, craft drinkers love to pop into their local breweries to fill up 32- and 128-ounce glass growlers to take their favorite beer to go.
Unfortunately, glass can be a pain in the ass, and a light weight alternative is always welcome. Glass growlers rely on counter-pressure and rubber gaskets to keep CO2 in and oxygen out, and the glass itself weighs quite a bit even when empty. There's also the heavy investment in the growler itself which usually costs a few bucks to initially buy.
For crowlers, they're big-ass aluminum cans that allow no light in, are lightweight and recyclable, and won't shatter or break. But it is at the end of the day a one-time use drinking vessel.
"Living in Florida, we are pretty stoked to have a 32-ounce crowler," Clark continued. "It can go places where glass can't. We're going to treat it the same as a glass [growler] fill volume wise... we want to make it affordable."
"We ordered a few thousand to see how it goes."
Since these large cans are not a popular or standard size from manufacturers, they are a special order product, and CCB will be awaiting customer feedback to order more.
As for local breweries, Due South Brewing Company will soon be joining in the crowler scene, once their machine from Oskar Blues arrives. "We've already got the crowlers and lids," brewer Joel Kodner told us.
Here is a size comparison between a standard 12-ounce can and the crowler:
And a video showing part of the filling and sealing process:
Users on the BeerAdvocate forum report their experiences with the crowler from Oksar Blues barrel aged TenFIDY release, sharing that after a week in the can, the beer poured out just as if it was coming out of the tap with no perceptible loss of carbonation or quality.
"We're still testing the QAQC of the cans," Clark explained. "Treat it like a growler, it's meant to be consumed fresh."
Expect to see crowlers around the craft beer scene this summer.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Instagram.
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