So you just visited an out of town brewery and you want to take home a jug full of your favorite new brew? Chances are you’ve seen those big glass jars lined up behind the bar, these are known are growlers and you can take them, fill it up and return when you want some more.
Preserving Your Beer
If you are traveling across a long distance to bring home some beer for your friends and family it is important to take good care of your growler or else the beer will get “skunky” or lose its carbonation. Many growlers are made of clear glass. This can be very bad news for beer. If your brew is left out in the sun it will become “light-struck” and the flavor will change dramatically. This issue can be solved by covering your growler with a paper bag or a t-shirt.
If your growler is made brown glass it has much more protection from the sun but it is a good idea to still keep it covered.
Storing Your Growler
Once you get your growler home you want to store it in a cool, dry place. The refrigerator is the best option but if that isn’t possible place it in a dark pantry or closet. A well-sealed growler last up to months if the temperature is controlled. However, once you have opened your growler that time is cut significantly, your beer will most definitely go flat within two days. If your beer does go flat you can still drink it or use it in recipes that call for beer.
Cleaning and Refilling your Growler
Since it is a reusable container there are also some concerns about cleanliness. Beer is a very delicate product. Most breweries will simply switch out your growler for a fresh one and clean yours later, but it is polite to bring a relatively clean growler back to your brewer, especially if it’s a small operation.
When cleaning your growler you want to avoid detergent. Detergent often will mess up your beer, distorting the balanced flavors and aromas of a well brewed beer. If you are a home brewer, you can just the growler with the same stuff that you use to clean you brewing equipment. If you don’t have that you can simply use hot water to clean out growler directly after you have finished your beer.
Additionally, if the brewer you are visiting actually reuses your growler ask your bartender to give the growler one final rinse. A good brewpub should be prepared to clean your growler thoroughly.