When doing a crowler vs growler comparison it is not a simple matter of saying that one is superior to the other. Although they do have similarities and differences they both also have advantages over the other and each has its place in allowing craft beer fans to transport fresh beer straight from the tap of their local craft brewery to their home, party, picnic, beach, or any other social event.
In this comparison we are going to take a deep dive into the differences between a crowler vs growler, we will look at what each is, how they differ from each other, the advantages of each, and when you should consider purchasing one over the other.
What is a Growler?
Since the growler came before the crowler we will take a look at it first. If you have been around the craft beer scene for a while now you would have definitely heard of a growler and have probably used one many times yourself. Growlers are simply portable air-tight jugs, typically made out of glass, but can also be made out of steel.
In simple terms growlers act like a mini keg of sorts, allowing consumers to fill them up with draft beer from their local craft brewery and take the beer home. Since they are airtight they keep the beer fresh for approximately 2-3 days allowing you to enjoy draft beer at home. They are also refillable and many breweries will fill growlers from other breweries or exchange them for one of their own.
What is a Crowler?
Crowlers came on the scene in the early 2000s and are essentially a can version of a growler. For the most part, they serve pretty much the same purpose being designed to be filled at your local craft brewery, allowing you to transport their draft beer home and keep it fresh until you drink it.
Crowlers look identical to a can of beer and you open them the same way however they are much larger. The main difference between them and a growler is they are not refillable and are intended for one-time use. Unlike a growler, you can not bring your own crowler to a brewery to have them fill it up, the brewery will supply the can and it also must be set up to be able to fill them. If a brewery sells crowlers they will have purchased a specialized machine that is designed to seal the cap onto the can. They will fill the crowler with the beer of your choice, place the cap on top, and place it in the machine where it will be sealed in place.
Growlers come in two sizes, the larger size which holds 64 ounces of beer and equates to four 16-ounce pints, and the half growler which is actually referred to as a howler and holds 32 ounces or two 16-ounce pints.
The crowler on the other hand also has two sizes with its largest size being the same size as the howler or 32 ounces. You can also get a 16-ounce crowler that holds one US pint (16 ounces).
Crowler vs Growler
As we have seen, the similarity between these two vessels is that they are designed for the craft beer fan to be able to take beer home from their local brewery and enjoy it fresh.
But there are also some significant differences between the two…
Size – First as we have seen a growler is capable of holding twice as much beer than a crowler, which depending on how much beer you are looking to take home with you can be a plus or a negative.
Filling – A crowler is definitely not as simple to fill as a growler. With a growler, you simply place its opening under the tap and fill it with beer. With a crowler, after they have filled it they use the machine we discussed previously to secure the lid in place. From experience doing so can take practice for the bar staff and does take time depending on how many crowlers are purchased.
Material – Crowlers are made of aluminum and growlers are made out of glass. Again either of these can be a plus or a negative depending on who you are talking to. Some people do not like the taste of beer that has been stored in aluminum cans and prefer beer out of a glass.
Transporting – One of the benefits of an aluminum crowler is when it comes to transporting the beer. Aluminum is much more durable than glass and does not run the risk of breaking which makes it more suited for taking with you on activities such as hiking, boating or even going to the beach. If you are simply taking the beer home with you from the brewery then you do not run much of a risk of breaking a glass growler.
Shipping – If you are a homebrewer or simply a person who likes to trade beers with their friends in other parts of the country, shipping it in a crowler vs a growler makes the process much less daunting and creates a higher likelihood that the beer’s container will not break during shipping.
Refillable – Growlers have a one-time purchase fee for the bottle but they are refillable, meaning you can take them back to the same brewery as many times as you like and have them refill them. Crowlers on the other hand are not refillable and are designed for one-time use. Some prefer the one-time use due to the lower cost as well as not having to worry about cleaning and sanitizing the vessel prior to its next use.
Advantages of a Crowler
Crowlers are more convenient from the standpoint that you can simply walk into a brewery and pick them up, no need to bring along your large glass jug.
With a crowler you don’t have to remember to bring it with you like you do with a growler, many people end up forgetting and end up buying a new one while at the brewery.
They are typically less expensive as aluminum costs less than glass.
Crowlers are recyclable and there is no need to clean or sanitize them.
Many public spaces such as beaches, parks and pools do not allow you to bring glass bottles, whereas with an aluminum crowler you will not run into this problem.
Advantages of a Growler
If you want more beer growlers hold at least a liter more than crowlers.
There is no need to recycle them as they are reusable. Many places around the world do not recycle crowlers.
Like any other can of beer, crowlers are made for a one-time serving, when you open one you will need to drink all of the beer within, with a growler you can put the lid back on and save it for later.
Growlers are available in pretty much every craft brewery, whereas not many carry crowlers as of yet.
You can purchase stainless steel insulated growlers designed to keep your beer cooler longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do crowlers last longer than growlers?
As long as the crowler is sealed correctly there are reports that it can keep the beer fresh for up to 30 days, whereas a growler should be consumed within 3 – 4 days.
Do growlers need to be refrigerated?
Yes, it is recommended to refrigerate your growler if you do not plan on drinking it right away. Although the caps are designed to be airtight, oxygen does get into the bottles when they are being filled from the beer tap and as a result, the quality of the beer will diminish, refrigerating it will help to keep it fresh longer.
Comparing a crowler vs growler really comes down to 3 main differences; growlers hold more beer than crowlers; the beer in a crowler will remain fresh for much longer; and cost wise growlers have an original cost associated with buying the vessel whereas the cost of the crowler can is absorbed in the cost of each filled crowler.
P.S. If you brew your own beer or wish to start then pick up your gift of Big Robb’s top 5 favorite beer recipes from his brewpub. Details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom if you are on your phone. Cheers!