Once quarantine is over, I promise to provide a Cicerone’s Guide To Drinking Beer At Garth’s Brew Bar, but for now – this is the next best thing.
Personally, I’ve stopped using growlers (at least the 62 oz ones) long ago. They’re heavy, it’s a lot of beer for one-person, they let light hit the beer, they don’t fit in my journey bag and being forward – I like to drink more of a variety in one 64 ounce sitting.
That being written, if you fill one up and drink it fresh (within a few days of fill up), then you’re doing right by the beer! Everyone has their personal preference and I won’t stand against that!
Though it’s unlikely your crowler will last more than a week (at least none I ever buy, do), here’s my story about the shelf-life of a crowler.
Roughly a year ago, I drank a one-week, three-week and three-month old crowler of the same beer and took serious tasting notes. The one and three-week old beers tasted nearly identical. And though the three-month crowler lost a little flavor and had very minute signs of oxidation, I wouldn’t call it spoiled.
In other words, if you see a beer you’re interested in on draught, but are about to take a beer-break or simply want to try aging it, go on and make the purchase. Life is too short not to experiment.
Growlers & Crowlers: A Disclaimer
As is the nature for both growlers and crowlers, there’s a little bit of oxygen that remains inside the containers that is otherwise not present in brewery-packaged bottles and cans. Over time, it can oxidize the beer and give it a wet cardboard flavor.
Story time: I actually soaked a piece of cardboard in beer for a few hours and then drank the beer when I practiced for my Cicerone® exam. It was terrible.
Also, know there are so many other variables that COULD come into play that support the idea of drinking a growler or crowler within three days…. No one knows how well it was packaged, what it went through during transportation or if the beer was already infected when it was brewed!
As with any purchase; the moment a brewery puts their beer out into the market, they deem that it’s in its perfect state for consumption.
So, if anything, the best time to drink that crowler or growler is the moment the beertender puts it in your hand.
I’ve found this quarantine time has allowed me to cycle through all my glassware. I’ve started to toss the ones that I don’t like and reaffirm why I always go to the same couple of glassware options.
If you don’t have a cabinet full of glassware for specific styles of beer (or a Garth’s Brew Bar branded glass, which, why the heck don’t you?), you can still have fun AND get the most out of your beer drinking experience by using any vessel that is not the can or bottle or crowler or growler that the beer came in.
Being forward, even using a child’s sippy cup without a lid is a better move than drinking straight from the can.
At minimum here’s my geeky request: Rinse your glass/mug/sippy cup/chalice/gravy boat with cold water before you pour your beer in it.
This will wash away any soapy residue or dust at the same time that it cools the container down so when you pour the beer in, it doesn’t foam up too much.
Warm beer = foam.
Yes, even a few degrees in temperature of the contact surface can make a huge difference in feeling good about your beer pour.
Story time: Almost anything can be a container. Just be careful of anyone who might be with you. If they ask you to play the game Big Container. Don’t do it. Speaking from experience, you will throw up.
Most beers have bottled on or best by dates posted on them that are fairly easy to read. They may even have a fun little quote next to them. (Seriously, pick up almost any Brewing Projekt beer and look at the bottom of the can.)
The tricky date; the one that likely makes no sense to you is called a Julian date code. The first three digits signify the day of the year out of the 365 days. Then there’s a space and one more digit. This is the last number of the year. Ex: 052 0 would be February 21st, 2020.
Story time: When training for my Cicerone® certification, my good friend Chris from Trixie’s gifted me a 5-year-old IPA. It was absolutely terrible. No hop flavor or aroma. It had an ashy bitterness to it and a whole lot of wet cardboard. Yuck.
If you’re on board with the #DrinkYourCellar campaign, I tip my hat off to you for having the willpower to develop a cellar of beer in the first place.
As geeky as I am about beer, I only have 5 beers in my cellar … all of which I’ve received within the last three months and I’m just waiting for a good opportunity to share them with others.
Alas, please do enjoy the malty, often-sherry-like flavors and booziness of those aged beers. My recommendation is to pull out and enjoy any Cassian Sunset from Central Waters you’ve had tucked away.
Time To Study
Interested in diving deeper into the world of beer education? Check out this definitive guide on becoming a Certified Cicerone®. If anything, the resources I can send you make for a good read.