How to Fill a Growler

Kegerators are a great way to store your signature craft beer, especially when dispensing single-serving pints for your patrons. But what if your customers want to take a larger amount home to share with their friends? Offering growlers is an excellent bar marketing technique that allows you to sell beer in large quantities and boost your bottom line. Keep reading to learn how to fill a growler and follow the appropriate growler-refilling practices.

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What Is a Growler?

A growler is a jug designed to transport beer and other craft drinks from breweries and bars. It is typically made out of glass, but may also be available in ceramic or stainless steel. Most growlers are dark brown in color and feature a carrying handle. The most common growler size is 64 oz., but sizes can vary, with some being as small as 32 oz. and others as large as 128 oz.

Growler Filling Supplies

Large Beer Growler On Table

Before offering beer growlers to customers, make sure to have the following supplies to properly fill a growler:

  • Growler - A beer growler is a glass, stainless steel, or ceramic jug that transports beer.
  • Cap - A cap is the closure that’s compatible with a growler if it doesn't have a bottle fastener.
  • Growler Fill Tube - A growler fill tube is a foot-long plastic tube that connects to your beer's faucet.
  • Labels - Labels for growlers are blank paper stickers for you to write on in order to follow government-regulated growler ordinances.
  • Sanitizer - Sanitizer is a liquid cleaning element that should be put in a red bucket to store your growler fill tube when not in use.

How to Fill a Beer Growler

Learning how to properly fill a growler can save you any potential wasted beer cost from overfilling and can ensure you aren't underdelivering the growler sale to your customer by not filling the growler all the way up.

1. Clean and Sanitize the Growler, Cap, and Tubing

Before filling, make sure that all of your growler, their caps, and the growler fill tubes are cleaned, sanitized, and air-dried. They should be air-dried by sitting them upside down. Some breweries keep a sanitizer bucket off to the side for the growler fill tube to live in until it’s ready for use.

2. Chill Your Growler

Growler on Beer Dispenser

Once the beer growlers are cleaned and sanitized, place the empty growler in the refrigerator to chill. This step is considered optional but serves two important purposes: the refrigerator will vaporize the remaining water and sanitizer off of the jug, and the cold bottle will keep the carbonation from foaming out of your growler when the beer hits the jug. The reduction in foam helps keep the flavors and carbonation locked in.

3. Secure the Tubing to the Desired Beer Tap

On your direct-draw beer system, secure a foot-long growler fill tube to the tap of your customer’s requested beer. The growler fill tube should be clear, and some breweries swear by having the bottom of the growler fill tube cut at a 45-degree angle for ideal carbonation dispensing. A growler fill tube that has a metal connector with two O-rings provides the most seamless connection and ease of use. A plastic tube without a metal connector is fine, but can sometimes leak.

4. Reduce the PSI

The pound-force per square inch (PSI) on a beer kegerator is set at around 10-15 PSI when serving by the glass, which results in more turbulence and, therefore, more foam. Growlers should be filled more slowly for better control and less foam, so drop the PSI to 0 and slowly raise it back up until it reads 4 or 5 PSI.

5. Purge Growler with CO2

If your beer tap system has a counter-pressure CO2, use it. Fill the beer growler with CO2 for 10 seconds. This pushes out the oxygen that’s sitting in the growler. Oxygen disrupts a beer’s flavor, and since CO2 is heavier than oxygen, the oxygen will easily be pushed out by the CO2, maintaining your beer’s flavor notes.

6. Fill from the Bottom, Up

Cap on Growler

Once your tubing is securely on the desired beer tap, thread the growler fill tube into your growler so the growler fill tube hits the bottom of the beer growler. Doing this reduces turbulence when filling the growler, which reduces CO2 loss to maintain the beer’s flavor. Fill the beer until it hits a pre-marked line that may be on the growler, or until there’s 5-10% headspace.

7. Capping on Foam

To do the “Capping on Foam” method for sealing your growler, take the growler fill tube out of the growler and off of the beer tap. Top off the rest of the growler from your beer dispenser until it’s completely full. The beer should be foaming out of the growler, and that’s when you’ll want to secure the growler’s cap on nice and tight.

8. Wipe down the Surface

Give your growler a quick wipe down to remove the foam that spilled over the side before the next step.

9. Depending on Your State, Cap the Seal with Plastic Binding

Some states require that your growler’s cap is sealed with plastic or with electric tape. You may even need to label the beer growler with your brewery’s name, net weight, and government warnings.

Growler FAQs:

We answer some of the most common questions about growler filling below.

Should My Brewery Sell Its Own Growlers?

Selling your own beer growlers with your brewery’s logo on them can be extremely profitable. Not only will the growler be a constant reminder of your business to the people that purchase one, but it’s a way to get free advertising and word of mouth marketing.

Should I Fill a Customer’s Personal Growler?

Beer Growlers On Table

This all depends on the growler regulation laws in your state, and then it's up to your brewery’s house rules from there. There are benefits to filing a customer’s personal beer growler: it’s convenient and eliminates the cost of a new growler, not to mention the eco-friendly impact it has on the earth. Before accepting a personal growler, inspect it for damage and cleanliness. Only accept clean, undamaged growlers and sanitize them in a quaternary solution for 60 seconds. Rinse the inside with water after sanitizing.

Should I Fill a Customer’s Personal Growler That’s from Another Brewery?

Most breweries will not fill another brewery’s beer growler unless the logo is permanently obscured or removed beforehand. There can be implications if the other brewery has a poor reputation or potential health code violations.

Should I Clean a Customer’s Personal Growler before I Fill It?

Always clean and sanitize a customer's personal growler and follow local health code regulations for safety. After the proper cleaning and sanitizing has been followed, it's also common practice to rinse the customer’s personal growler under cold water before filling to reduce the CO2 loss.

How Long Will Beer Keep in a Filled Growler?

If left unopened, your beer growler should be good for 7-10 days. If the growler is opened, the beer should be enjoyed within 24 hours or the carbonation will fall flat.

Learning how to fill a growler properly is important and is a great way to safely distribute your craft beers. If you've turned to limited dining due to social distancing or staffing shortages, filling and selling growlers can be very profitable for your business by allowing for you to make a large profit at once, while also showcasing your brand if you sell your own growlers. Be sure to follow the steps listed here to keep a profitable service for years to come.

Posted in: Bars & Breweries|Food Safety|By Val Goodrich
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