Have you gotten used to craft beer in cans yet? It’s a growing trend across the industry. Cans, after all, have a number of advantages over glass bottles. First, they let no light in to potentially skunk the beer. Second, you can take them places – like the beach or a park – where bottles may not be allowed. That’s all pretty clear – but now there’s a new use for cans– they can replace growlers. What we’re talking about is a can that can be filled and then sealed one at a time in front of the customer. It’s called a crowler.
The idea was been born at Oskar Blues brewery, a longtime trailblazer and one of the first to give cans a try. They turned to the Ball Corporation, manufacturer of cans and other packaging, to bring the concept to life. Here’s how it works:
When you go the brewery to get some beer, you don’t bring your glass growler anymore. You place your order, the server grabs what looks like a normal beer can, but without a top, writes the name of the beer you’ve chosen on the label, purges it with CO2, fills it with beer, and then uses the crowler machine to attach a lid to the rest of the 32 ounce can (no 64’s yet).
According to Jeremy Rudolf of Oskar Blues, “We get off on pushing the limits, doing things differently and the crowler is another step of innovation to take advantage of what the can package has to offer from behind the bar. More beer options in more cans.”
Crowlers are inexpensive – generally breweries charge a buck over the price of the beer. They’re clean – many people don’t clean their glass growlers as well as they should, which means the new beer going in to them is contaminated. They can go just about anywhere. And beer stays fresh in them longer than it does in glass growlers. The downside? They are not reusable, though they are recyclable.
They’ve caught on at more than a hundred breweries across the country. Cigar City in Tampa has even come up with a screen-printing method to label the cans without employees having to hand write the name of each beer on them. And several breweries in Australia and the UK have starting offering crowlers as well.
I'm hoping to visit a brewery using crowlers in a future episode of Beer Geeks. Stay tuned.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.