Last Updated on October 25, 2023 by Lydia Martin
After diving into the world of craft beer, I’ve learned to enjoy the little details that turn a beer into an experience. Whether I’m at a cozy brewery or checking out a cool taproom, choosing between a crowler and a growler is all about what I know and what I like.
Crowlers and growlers serve the same purpose – transporting and enjoying beer fresh – but they come with distinct features and advantages.
In this article, let me shed light on the crowler vs growler debate and break down their differences, providing you with the insights you need to make an informed choice for your beer adventures.
Comparing Growler & Crowler Craft Beer Vessels
Crowlers and growlers are both popular choices among craft beer lovers. They serve as containers to transport beer so they can stay fresh.
However, they have distinct differences that cater to various preferences.
Beer growler typically comes in larger sizes, ranging around 64 ounces, which I find ideal whenever I prefer to purchase more beer at a local brewery.
“Crowlers offer convenience, while Growlers provide sustainability. Your choice depends on your beer-drinking priorities.” – Liquor Laboratory
On the other hand, crowlers are more portable, with a typical size of 32 ounces (two full pints), perfect for trying different beers on the go.
As you may know, bike paths, public festivals, and campgrounds tend to prohibit glass containers, so crowlers are the best must-have.
But while growlers are reusable, crowlers are not, which impacts their eco-friendliness. So, the choice between beer growlers and crowlers boils down to our individual beer-drinking needs and priorities.
Crowler vs Growler Cheat Sheet
|Size||32 oz (typically)||64 oz (standard)|
|Material||Aluminum crowlers||Glass growlers or stainless steel growlers|
|Sealing||Sealed on-site||Screw-on cap or flip-top|
|Portability||Highly portable||Moderately portable|
|Durability||Robust||Fragile (glass) or robust (stainless steel)|
|Shelf Life||Short (days)||Moderate (up to a week)|
|Variety||Limited to on-site options||Variety from different craft breweries|
|Cleaning||Not reusable||Reusable, requires cleaning|
What’s A Crowler?
A crowler, short for “growler cans,” are portable, single-use containers primarily used for packaging fresh craft beer.
It typically holds 32 ounces (two full pints) of beer  and is made from lightweight aluminum cans.
Breweries fill aluminum crowlers directly from the tap or crowler machine and seal them on-site, ensuring the beer will remain fresh.
Crowlers have gained popularity for their convenience and ability to preserve beer quality.
- Highly portable
- Excellent for sharing
- Blocks out light and oxygen intake
- Perfect for limited-edition releases
- Easy to label for beer identification
- Single-use only
- Limited size options
What’s A Growler?
A growler is a beer packaging designed for transporting fresh brews from breweries or taprooms to your home. It comes in various sizes, with the standard growler bottles being 64 ounces.
Beer growlers are usually made of glass or stainless steel, with screw-on caps or flip-top lids. They’re an eco-friendly and reusable way to enjoy craft beer  while reducing waste.
- Reusable, reducing waste
- Larger volume options
- Aesthetic designs available
- Suitable for refills at various breweries
- More eco-friendly
- Not as portable
- May not preserve freshness as well
History & Origin
The growler has a long history dating back to the 1800s when beer enthusiasts carried pails filled with fresh beer from their local taverns and craft breweries.
In contrast, the crowler, the smaller version, is a more recent innovation, emerging in the 2010s as a response to the growing popularity of craft beer and draft beer.
Beer crowlers are made of aluminum cans, making them robust and virtually unbreakable.
Growlers, on the other hand, come in glass or stainless steel. While stainless steel growlers are durable, glass growlers can be fragile, requiring careful handling.
Additionally, there are fewer growlers made from ceramics. Although fragile, ceramic growlers make it easy to keep the container clean.
Carbonation & Freshness
Crowlers excel in preserving the freshness while maintaining the beer carbonated.
The canning process minimizes exposure to beer-degrading oxygen and light, two factors that can negatively impact the beer quality.
Growlers, especially glass growlers, may allow slight oxygen and light penetration over time, potentially affecting the beer’s taste and carbonation.
In short, beers remain fresher in a crowler cans than in growler glass containers.
Ease of Use
Crowlers are a breeze to use. Any brewery can quickly fill and seal them on-site, ensuring airtight closures.
Conversely, growlers, while using counter-filled pressure to seal the flavors and carbonation, require more effort. You need to screw on or seal the cap yourself, which may lead to inconsistencies in sealing quality.
If you’re short on storage space, crowlers have the edge. Their small size allows you to store more beer variety in your fridge or cooler.
Growlers, due to their larger size, take up more room in your storage.
Beer crowlers are significantly lighter than beer growlers , mainly stainless steel growlers. So, this makes crowler a go-to container for on-the-go beer enthusiasts.
In comparison, a stainless or glass growler can be bulky and heavy when filled, which can be challenging to carry around.
While a glass growler is widely available at many breweries, tap, and brewpubs, a beer crowler is typically offered at taprooms that have invested in a special machine or beer canning machine.
However, availability might be limited depending on your location.
Shipping & Transport
Whenever I need to send beer to a friend or want to take my favorite beer home from a brewery across state lines, I always opt for crowlers.
Crowler’s compact size and airtight seal make it a convenient choice for shipping.
In comparison, a growler has the potential for leaks and fragility, especially a glass growler. So, a growler may not be the best container for long-distance transportation.
Overall Product Quality
In terms of preserving the beer’s quality and characteristics, crowlers have a slight edge. Since they’re made of aluminum cans, they can block out light and oxygen.
This ensures that the beer inside remains as the brewmaster intended.
While effective for short-term enjoyment, growlers may not maintain the same level of quality over extended periods. So, the beer must be consumed immediately.
Refilling & Sealing
Growlers have the upper hand when it comes to reusability. They can be refilled time and again at various breweries, reducing waste.
If you’re cleaning the container, I suggest using hot water and doing a triple-rinse to remove any leftover residue completely.
Then, air-dry the container, do the refill, and seal it with a can seamer.
Crowlers, being single-use, are less eco-friendly. Since crowlers typically come in individual cans, I suggest drinking the beer immediately after cracking open the container.
Price & Value
Growlers are generally more cost-effective in the long run than crowlers.
“They who drink beer will think beer.” – Washington Irving, American Writer
While the initial investment may be higher due to the price of the bottles, the ability to reuse it for multiple refills can save you money than buying a new can of crowler every time you want fresh beer.
How long will a crowler last unopened?
Crowlers can last for several weeks when unopened. Even if it’s unopened, you might notice partial flatness, so it’s best to consume them as soon as possible for the freshest taste.
Do crowlers last as long as cans?
Crowlers and regular beer  cans have similar lifespans if unopened, as both are sealed with airtight lids.
Can you drink straight from your growler?
Yes, you can drink straight from a full growler. However, pouring your favorite craft beer into a glass is best to appreciate its aroma and flavor fully.
Can I use a Yeti as a growler?
Yes, you can use Yeti to keep your growler cold. Yeti makes an excellent insulated container that can double as a growlers, keeping your beer cold for extended periods.
Do you have to consume a crowler all at once?
You don’t have to consume a crowler of beers all at once. But, consuming it within a few days after opening for optimal taste is advisable.
Does a crowler of beer need to be refrigerated?
Yes, you need to refrigerate a crowler of beers (or draft beers) to maintain their freshness carbonation and limit bacterial growth.
How long do crowlers stay carbonated?
Crowlers can stay carbonated for several days to a week if properly sealed and stored in a cool place.
In the battle of a crowler and a glass growler, a crowler is the best choice. Its ability to preserve freshness and convenience in transporting craft beer to various destinations outweighs the reusability and aesthetics of the glass growler.
Besides, crowlers excel in portability, freshness, and variety, making them ideal for those who love to explore different brews in taprooms.
But I can’t deny growlers’ eco-friendliness, reusability, and cost-effectiveness, perfect for those who have a favorite local brewery and want to enjoy their brews at home.
Ultimately, the choice still depends on your priorities and alcohol consumption habits. It’s crucial to consider your preferences and needs when deciding.