Stainless steel growlers are the easiest to carry around, because a bit of carelessness won’t result in beer and sharp stuff all over the sidewalk. They protect the beer from sunlight, and they’re insulated, so they also protect it from changes in temperature – a good thing if you’re bringing it home on a really hot day or taking it on a picnic. Stainless growlers are somewhat more difficult to fill because you can’t see how full they’re getting. This also makes it harder to tell when you’re getting low and need a refill.
Ceramic growlers are the least common. Many people find them more pleasing to the eye than glass or stainless steel, but they are more expensive, prone to chipping, heavy to carry, and difficult to clean.
And at the risk of stating the obvious, you do need to clean them. Not cleaning your growler may taint the flavor and degrade the quality of your next refill. Kegerator.com offers these ideas for keeping your growler clean:
- The easiest way is to rinse the growler as soon as it’s empty. This may be difficult when you see that freshly-poured craft beer waiting for you, but if you can delay gratification just long enough to give the empty container a rinse, that’s really all you have to do to prepare it for its next use.
- If you don’t manage that immediate rinse, you’ll need a special cleaner when you finally get around to it. Don't use a fat- or oil-based soap to clean it. These are extremely difficult to rinse clean, which might give your next refill soapy undertones. Gag.
- If it’s really been a while since you emptied the container, you may not be drinking enough craft beer. Shame on you. And if you didn't rinse it, you’ll have to use a brush to get rid of the nastiness inside. You can use a basic bottle brush for this, but you’ll get better results with a special carboy brush with a long handle to navigate the growler’s narrow neck and soft bristles to scrape the scum from the inside.
- Let the growler air-dry upside down. Don’t let it dry with a towel inside: this could leave tiny fibers behind that would absorb moisture and grow moldy science experiments in the container. Neither will enhance the quality of your next fill.
Buy growlers at Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery and keep these cleaning supplies on hand so you're always ready for a refill.