As a craft beer lover, I think the growler is one of the best innovations ever! When visiting my favorite brewery taproom I always make sure to take a beer growler with me just in case I enjoy one pint so much I want to take some fresh draught beer home with me.
Always be prepared, we were taught as Boy Scouts – I’m not sure that applied to beer in growlers, but hey ho, it’s still the same principle!
Growlers are one of the best ways to enjoy your favorite beers at home, and also a superb way of letting your buddies take some of your latest homemade beer home with them. For road trips, camping trips, hunting or fishing expeditions, a growler is the ultimate way to keep your beer fresh.
However, if you’re not planning on drinking your growler right away, you may be wondering how long it will last unopened. Let’s take a look at the different styles of this popular beer container that you can find, and check out how long each growler of beer will remain fresh.
What Is a Growler?
A growler is basically any resealable beer container that typically holds approximately 2 liters or 64 fl oz of beer. You can get glass growlers but more commonly they will be made of plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, or even ceramic.
A growler of beer can be sold prepackaged with the beer already filled and sealed in by the brewery, or you can buy your own beer growler to fill with your favorite draft beer.
When it comes to types of growlers, you have two main options – pressurized or non-pressurized.
Non-pressurized growlers are the cheaper option and are like a thermos flask, but designed to keep larger quantities of beer cold for longer periods in a convenient, easy-to-transport package.
One 64 oz growler contains the equivalent of four 16 oz Tall Boy aluminum beer cans or just over five 12 oz bottled beers. They will use a resealable cap like a screw cap or a swing top which allows for them to be resealed so you don’t have to drink the beer all in one go.
A pressurized growler is more like a mini keg that contains 64 ounces of beer, but under pressure, which helps keep the beer carbonated and fresher for longer. Pressurized growlers will normally have a mini CO2 cartridge placed between the tank and cap/tap of the growler, although you can also get pressurized growlers where the CO2 cartridge is mounted on the side.
Beer in a non-pressurized growler will last from several days to a couple of weeks, depending on how it was filled and the type of beer it contains. Beer in pressurized beer storage vessels will last from several weeks to a few months without any carbonation loss or the beer going bad.
Two of my favorite options for beer growlers you can keep at home to fill with your favorite taproom beer on your next brewery day out include:
The Stanley Classic Easy-Pour 64 oz Growler, a non-pressurized budget-friendly option, and the GrowlerWeks uKeg Go Carbonated Growler, a pressurized mini keg option.
- FRESH, COLD & CARBONATED: To keep your beer tasty, fizzy and cold for up to 24 hours, the Stanley Growler features a vacuum insulated body with steel inner lid with zero plastic that doesn’t change the taste. It doubles as an excellent thermos to store coffee, tea or soup and keeps hot up to 18 hours.
- LARGE CAPACITY: This growler can store up to 64oz / 4 Pints / 2 Qt / 1.9L of your favorite beverage, making this ideal for any picnic, hike, or camping trip.
- FUNCTIONAL DESIGN: The built-in heavy duty handle makes it easy to carry and smooth to pour with one hand. The wide mouth allows for quick filling, sharing, and cleaning. It’s also dishwasher-safe for an easy clean.
The Stanley Classic Easy-Pour Growler is the perfect option for those tailgating parties, picnics, hunting or fishing trips, or other outdoor pursuits where you don’t have access to proper storage for your beer. A vacuum-insulated body with a steel inner lid will keep your beer tasty, fizzy, and cold for up to 24 hours.
The swing top lid has a removable silicon gasket which keeps the beer fresh and stops it from leaking, but also has an inner made of stainless steel so you don’t get any of the plastic taste you might get with other less premium growlers.
The wider mouth of this growler also makes it easier to fill and pour with just one hand thanks to the built-in heavy-duty carry handle.
The growler is also dishwasher-safe, making it ideal for reuse without affecting the flavor of the beer even after many years of use. Stanley even provides a lifetime warranty should anything ever go wrong with the growler, although I have had mine for 5 years now with absolutely no problems.
- STAYS FRESH - patented carbonation system automatically maintains freshness and optimal carbonation for weeks
- STAYS COLD - double wall stainless steel vacuum insulation keeps beverages cold all day
- STAYS CARBONATED - streamlined regulator cap allows you to choose high or low carbonation setting to match the beverage you're serving
When looking for a more premium option for a beer growler, the KegWerks uKeg is a pressurized growler that can keep your fresh draft beers carbonated for several weeks if not a couple of months.
The patented carbonation system of this GrowlerWerks growler will automatically maintain freshness and optimal carbonation for weeks. It uses standard food-grade CO2 cartridges, as you would find on a soda siphon, which fit above the three-position tap for dispensing your delicious beers.
It can be either locked for storage, opened for filling, or opened for pouring, with no fear of flat beer when you eventually pour. You can even choose between high or low carbonation dependent on the kind of beer you are serving.
A double-wall stainless steel vacuum insulation keeps beverages cold all day, but if you plan on keeping your beer for a couple of days or more I would always recommend storing it in a refrigerator or at least on ice. With its durable powder-coated finish and rubber footing that provide extra protection against dents and scratches, this is a growler you can take on those longer road trips too, but I always like to keep mine for best at home.
At the other end of the scale, there are some very inexpensive growler options which are like large glass jugs with replaceable screw-on tops, similar to those you may find sold filled with beer from microbreweries in their taprooms. Ideal for the avid home brewer who likes to share his latest homebrewed beers with his buddies.
- Set of 3 64oz. Amber Glass Growlers
- 3 Extra caps, 6 Total Black Plastic Caps
- Great for Home Brew, Kombucha, Cider & More
Glass growlers will be one of the least expensive options and although they don’t offer the same insulation or freshness of the swing top or pressurized growlers will keep beer fresh and fizzy for a couple of days after filling and certainly long enough to get your draft beer home.
How Long Do Growlers of Beer Last?
On average, beer in a growler will last from several days up to two weeks, but there are many variables that will determine how long the beer stays fresh.
Beer is a perishable product that can be affected by several factors, such as temperature, light, and air exposure. Therefore, it’s crucial to store your growler correctly to ensure that it stays fresh and doesn’t spoil.
The temperature at which you store your growler can significantly affect its shelf life. Beer is best stored at a temperature of around 38 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the average temperature of a refrigerator.
If you store your growler at room temperature, the beer inside may begin to spoil quickly, leading to off-flavors and a stale taste. Similarly, if you store your growler in a location that’s too cold, the beer may develop a hazy appearance or freeze, which can also affect its taste.
Light can also affect the shelf life of a growler, especially if it is a glass growler. Specifically, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can cause the beer to develop a skunky taste. Therefore, it’s best to store your growler in a dark place or in a container that blocks out light, such as an insulated cooler or a bag.
Air exposure is another factor that can affect the shelf life of a growler. When beer is exposed to air, it can quickly begin to oxidize, leading to off-flavors and a stale taste. Therefore, it’s essential to store your growler in an airtight container and avoid opening it until you’re ready to drink it.
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of proper storage, let’s explore the other factors that can affect the shelf life of a growler.
Type of Beer Being Stored in the Growler
The type of beer you’re storing can significantly affect its shelf life. Lighter beers, such as pilsners and lagers, have a shorter shelf life because they have a lower alcohol content and are more susceptible to spoiling quickly.
Delicate beers like a hoppy IPA or pales should always be consumed as fresh as possible. These beers are typically best consumed within a few days of being filled in a growler.
On the other hand, darker beers, such as stouts and porters, have a higher alcohol content and are more resistant to spoiling. These beers can last longer in a growler, typically up to two weeks if stored correctly.
Opened or Unopened?
An unopened growler should last 2 – 4 weeks. Again, this can depend on how the growler was filled, if it is one you took into the tap room for filling straight from the tap, it will only last about 2 -5 days unopened.
If it’s a beer growler they grab from around the back of the bar, they probably have a premium filling system that purges the growler with CO2 before filling, and should last 2 – 4 weeks. The seal will be undoubtedly better when it is refilled and there may even be a plastic wrap around the cap to indicate it has not been previously opened after filling.
Once opened, the growler should stay fresh and carbonated for 2 – 3 days but bear in mind oxygen is now coming into contact with the beer and it’s often a rapid decline from foamy beer to flat beer. Using a pressurized growler will obviously keep the beer fresh for longer, and you should expect at least 2 weeks to a month after the first pour with an airtight pressurized beer growler.
Failing that you could always invite a few buddies around to help you finish off that delicious beer before it goes flat or loses its flavor – sharing is caring!
The Condition of the Growler
Another factor that can greatly impact how long your growler keeps beer fresh, even unopened, is the condition of your growler. If you are refilling a growler you should ensure it is perfectly cleaned before refilling, as if it is unclean or if there is any residual beer, any new beer you may be adding to it can quickly spoil.
If you are using one of the less expensive plastic growlers it is recommended that you don’t reuse it more than 2 to 3 times, as cleaning the growler can often cause abrasions to the plastic. Beer-spoiling bacteria or residual beer can hide in the small crevices and contaminate any future beer. Glass can be more resilient, but for reusable beer growlers, stainless steel is recommended.
The quality of the seal on your growler can also have a significant impact on its shelf life. If the seal is not airtight, air can enter the container and cause the beer inside to spoil quickly. A good seal is essential for maintaining the carbonation level of the beer and preserving its flavor.
Therefore, it’s important to ensure that the lid of your growler is screwed on tightly and that the rubber gasket is in good condition.
Can Beer Go Bad in a Growler?
The short answer is yes, beer is a perishable beverage, but when it’s considered bad can be a very subjective judgment.
When asking how long it takes to go bad, it really depends on the beer. More delicate beers like hoppy pale ales and pilsners or lighter beers can quickly oxidize causing off flavors, while sour beers, more hearty darker ales, and stouts, or beers with higher ABVs can take longer to go bad.
To tell if a growler of beer has gone bad, you should first look at the surface of the beer. Top fermented beers will normally have a creamy head called “white cap” as their yeasts don’t cause too much foam.
The head of beer forms when the pressure is released and there are lots of bubbles and CO2 in the beer. If a beer has gone bad you won’t notice too much foam on the surface as there has been too much oxidation of the beer and the CO2 content has been reduced.
The color of a growler of beer can also indicate whether the beer has gone bad. An off-white color implies that oxidation has taken place or the growler has been exposed to light. The taste of the beer will also have changed.
Basically, if the beer doesn’t look right, it probably means it isn’t right.
How Long Will Hard Cider Keep Unopened in a Growler?
Beer growlers can also be used to store hard cider and keep it colder and fresher for longer. Like most beers, a hard cider should stay fresh if kept refrigerated in an air-tight sealed growler for 2 to 3 weeks. However, once it’s opened, the cider should be consumed in 24 to 48 hours as it will quickly lose its carbonation, and some of the pectins in the fruit will undergo oxidation very quickly causing off flavors.
While hard cider does not necessarily go bad or spoil in the same ways as beers, the flavor profile will change over time and become less pleasant. The taste deteriorates the longer the alcohol is left to sit and can take on a very vinegary taste and aroma.
What’s the Difference between a Crowler and a Growler?
You may have heard the term crowler mentioned and assumed it to be just another type of growler, but the key difference of a crowler is they are not resealable in general. They are large beer containers, storing up to 64 oz of beer just like a growler, but once opened they do not have a lid or top which can be replaced.
A crowler is basically a large aluminum can that is filled and pressed as you wait. Oskar Blues became the first craft brewery in the US to use crowlers in 2002 when they teamed up with the Ball Corporation to find an alternative way for packaging beer behind their bars for draft beer lovers to take home with them.
Although most microbreweries didn’t originally think the crowler would take off, there are now over 600 breweries in the United States offering these large aluminum cans.
Crowlers are cheaper to produce, on average you pay only $1 – $2 for a crowler plus the cost of the beer inside it, they are lightweight and durable, aluminum is designed to reflect UV rays, and the airtight seal, when it is pressed, can keep the beer carbonated for two weeks or more.
However, once opened it can’t be easily resealed and the beer has to be drunk in one go….not a problem for me if it’s filled with a Stone IPA!
A growler allows you to reseal and savor the beer the next day, with pressurized growlers allowing for up to 2 weeks more enjoyment of the beer, although 64 oz of beer is unlikely to last 2 weeks in my household.
How Long Does Beer Last Unopened in a Growler? Final Thoughts
In conclusion, a growler can last up to two weeks unopened if it’s properly sealed, stored at the correct temperature, and protected from light and air exposure. However, the shelf life can be affected by several factors, including the type of beer, the quality of the seal, and the condition of the growler.
Therefore, it’s essential to take proper care of your growler and invest in the best quality growler you can afford.
Once opened, ensure you enjoy that beer in 3 – 5 days at most, as contact with the outside world can quickly cause the beer to go flat or lose much of its flavor.
I mean, you wouldn’t open a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and leave it opened in the fridge for 3 days, would you? I certainly hope not!