Showing posts with label growlers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label growlers. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Next to Godliness

It's fair to say that I am a fan of the growler, that magical 2 litre bottle which you can fill with beer at a tasting room, in a pub, or even at a petrol station. I own a few growlers, it's true, and I have settled on the style I like best - swing top, good sturdy handle.  I have drunk barrel aged barleywine that had been sitting in such a growler for two years without losing condition and it tasted great.

On the days when I am working in the Starr Hill tasting room, I probably fill anywhere between 20 and 50 growlers, and while most of them are fine, we probably get about 5 or 6 every shift which are a pain in the arse to fill. Sometimes the problem comes from the shape of the growler itself, thin necks are more difficult to fill with our setup than the wider type that we use, but more often than not it is because the growler is not properly clean. Quite often it is enough to give the growler in question a quick rinse, but again, more often than I would like, it is because of a layer of caked on crap which would need a pneumatic drill to get through.

So, as a public service announcement, and in order to stop muttering to myself in Czech when behind the bar, here is the best way to keep a growler clean.
  1. Drink the beer
  2. Immediately rinse growler with HOT water
  3. Fill growler with hot water
  4. Put half a scoop of plain Oxi-Clean into the growler
  5. Shake growler vigorously (think St Vitus Dance)
  6. Leave overnight, with the swing top open to avoid exploding growlers
  7. Rinse with more hot water several times
  8. Drain upside down
  9. If you don't use the growler for a while, leave the top open so the air doesn't go stale
Part of the pleasure of owning growlers is being able to have brewery/pub fresh beer in the comfort of your own home, keeping your growler good and clean means it will taste far better than if it sits on a layer of crud before you drink it.

Here endeth the lesson...

Monday, April 18, 2011

In Praise of Growlers

I still remember the first growler I ever saw, perched atop one of the fridges at PK in Prague, a mammoth bottle sporting a swing top, capable of holding 2 litres of beer and with Svijany branding on the side. Given that pubs serving my favourite beers were but a few steps from my front door, I never bothered with a growler, though I often saw people in PK filling PET bottles with beer to take home. Only once do I recall someone coming in with a d?bán - basically a traditional ceramic jug used for taking beer home from the pub for dinner, the kind of task in more civilised times you would send the kids to do.

On moving to the States, I got a job working in the tasting room at the Starr Hill brewery, where you can still find me one day a month behind the bar, talking a lot and being asked where in Australia, South Africa (?!) or even Canada I am from. Seriously, nobody ever seems to get that I am British, I know my accent is all over the place but even just ten minutes listening to the World Service will put you on the right island. Admittedly my habit of muttering to myself in Czech may be a bit off putting. Anyway, we sell a lot of growlers, and we fill even more.

I now have three growlers, the Blue Mountain Brewery one in the pictures, and a couple of Starr Hill ones, which have a metal handle that makes them a little easier to carry that the one above, but it is the beer inside that is important. One Friday afternoon, my good friend Mark Stewart (seriously talented photographer and all round top bloke, soon to be moving to London, but here for a while yet) and I met up and drove out to Devils Backbone en route to going to his place for dinner. Mrs Velkyal had been at a quilting workshop close to Mark and his wife's place, so we decided to have a get together. Having two growlers to fill gave us a window of opportunity to sit at the bar and enjoy a few pints, and a chat with Jason about many things beer, including an upcoming brew we'll be doing - but more about that at the right time.

I filled up with Devils Backbone's Maibock, which is a deliciously smooth beer with something of a booze kick that creeps up on your from behind and smacks you across the head, I liked it. I also got a fill of my current "go to" beer, the Vienna Lager (another minor aside, I am researching the similarities and differences between Vienna Lager and Czech polotmavé pivo), which I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday afternoon.

Perhaps I am something of a stickler, but whenever I finish a growler, I make sure that I rinse it. Every once in a while I will give them a thorough cleaning - fill with hot water, add a teaspoon of Oxyclean and leave overnight, the next morning, rinse with hot water 6 or 7 times as Oxyclean leaves a slight film on the glass, once clean it gets closed and stored in the cellar until needed. Before I fill them again though, I will use my non-rinse One Step cleanser just to make sure - like I say, I am a stickler. There have been times though at the tasting room when people present you with a growler caked in all manner of crap and you just shudder at the thought of putting beer in it, and I don't mean the kind of crap a quick rinse sorts out.

I love having growlers, though they will never replace going to the pub for a few pints. A word to the wise though, it is never a good idea to drink 2 litres of Legend's 15.6% abv barleywine from a growler on a week night. Trust me.

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