Fresh beer is far and away the best beer and the freshest version is often enjoyed via grower. If you don't know what a growler is, these vessels of the gods allow you to bring your favorite beer such as IPA, stout, or sour home straight from the tap. But in order to do it all right, you need to know how to keep your growler clean.
There are quite a few different growler shapes and sizes but they are all relatively easy to clean. In other words, do your pub or taphouse a favor and show up with a clean growler. They're likely busy enough as is and spend plenty of time cleaning up after people anyhow.
Here's how to keep your favorite beer-holder clean as a whistle, at least when it's not holding beer.
How to Clean a Growler
If your growler has a wide mouth, the cleaning process is pretty straightforward. All it takes is a minute or two of actual cleaning time and enough time for the growler to properly dry.
If you have a growler with a small top or rounded sides, investing in an angled bottle brush is a good idea. These brushes allow you to scrub the bottom of the growler and get into the interior curves, ensuring you’ve cleaned the entire surface. Regardless of growler shape or size, cleaning will be easier right after the beer is consumed and before there is any hardened residue to remove. If you’ve waited and gunk has developed, simply soak the growler in a soapy solution to loosen it up.
If you're a homebrewer, you're probably already no stranger to sanitizer. It's good to have some on hand if you want to give your growler an extra cleaning (or if it's been sitting empty for a while).
Step 1: Thoroughly rinse the growler with hot water.
Step 2: Add a bit of soap and begin to swirl it around to make sure you get the interior of the growler coated with soap.
Step 3: Rinse again and let air dry (preferably upside-down to drain excess water).
Don't Forget the Cap
Growler caps deserve a special note of attention. Most narrow-mouthed glass growlers come with a metal screw-on cap with a thin foam layer inside. It is very difficult to get these caps clean enough for reuse. A bad seal or bacterial infection from an unclean cap could ruin your full growler of beer and isn’t worth the risk. When in doubt, throw it out.
You can buy a 100-pack of these caps from your homebrew shop or from online retailers. If you don’t like the environmental aspect of discarding caps, polycarbonate caps are also available. These are easier to clean and won’t rust over time like the metal caps.
Tips and Tricks
- Dry upside down for a few hours then turn it right side up to dry the rest of the way. Do not place the cap on the growler, this will trap moisture inside and can add unwanted bacteria.
- Store your growlers with the lid off (and upside-down if possible) to keep anything from accumulating in the empty jug.
When getting your growler filled, the bartender will sanitize the bottle and purge oxygen with CO2. Once the growler is firmly capped, do not open it until you’re ready to drink the beer. Once the bottle is opened, the carbonation is released and oxygen is introduced, which will compromise the taste and quality of the beer over time. So when you pour that delicious draft beer from your growler, settle in to enjoy the experience in a single setting.
Having a clean growler will not only keep bad bacteria out of your beer vessel, but it will also help keep your beer tasting perfect.
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