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There is no shortage of great canned and bottled beer available at grocery, liquor, and convenience stores across the country, but for the freshest possible fragrant IPAs and crisp lagers, you’ll want to go directly to the source and drink draft beer from breweries. Many breweries offer crowlers, or large aluminum cans that are filled to order, but they're only used once—destined for the recycling bin soon after you finish your beer. If you buy plenty of draft beer, we recommend grabbing a high-quality reusable growler. These vessels keep beer cold and bubbly, shielding the liquid from sunlight.
“Growlers are awesome because they allow you to get beers that aren’t offered in can or bottle packaging," says Kris Ketcham, the senior manager of brewing and innovation at Stone Brewing. "A lot of breweries will offer their new releases early or experimental batches at the brewery locations. The only way to bring beers like these home with you is in a growler.“
Here are our picks for the best beer growlers.
Best Overall: Stanley Classic 64 oz Easy-Pour Vacuum Insulated Growler
No pouring spout
Sifting through the scores of seemingly cookie-cutter growlers can be tough, especially when you’re seeking the hoppy holy grail: a high-quality growler that’s also a huge value. That’s why we’re so pleased with the Stanley Classic, a must-get for beer drinkers everywhere. The vacuum-insulated 64-ounce growler ticks every necessary box. It’s leakproof, BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and keeps beer cold for up 24 hours.
The rustproof Stanley stays pressurized even when you put it through rough-and-tumble travel, jostling in a backpack or the backseat of your car. (The company claims that Stanley bottles have survived hurricanes, 4,000-foot drops, and speeding bullets.) When you’re ready to drink, the oversize handle makes it simple to pour a few well-chilled beers, keeping the good times going round after round.
Capacity: 64 ounces | Material: Stainless steel | Insulation: Double-walled insulation
Best Splurge: GrowlerWerks uKeg 64-Ounce Carbonated Growler
Keeps beer fresh for weeks
Carbon dioxide canisters are costly
If you’re obsessed with freshness and each beer’s perfect level of carbonation, you’ll want to invest in the GrowlerWerks uKeg 64. The 64-ounce keg might not be the cheapest option, but it has all the bells and whistles you want to ensure that you’re drinking beer in its best state. The vacuum-insulated stainless steel uKeg can keep beer fresh and bubbly for weeks thanks to its patented regulator cap.
It connects to a carbon dioxide cartridge, and you can custom-adjust your preferred level of carbonation—a pressure gauge provides an accurate reading. Instead of opening the jug to pour the beer, introducing damaging oxygen and losing precious carbonation, the uKeg lets drinkers dispense beer from a tap. It’s the next best thing to personally pouring pints at a bar.
Capacity: 64 ounces | Material: Stainless steel | Insulation: Vacuum insulation
Best for Durability: YETI Rambler Half-Gallon Jug
Great for day trips
Heavy to drink from
Material retains smells
“While we prefer to drink draft beer right away or have beer packaged in cans or bottles, sometimes there’s something special on draft that just requires a growler,” says David Graham, the brand manager at Karbach Brewing Co. in Houston, Texas. “I like something really versatile and something that isn’t going to break. The YETI jugs are super-convenient to fill with the whole lid off and have a great small opening to pour from. Solid as a rock.”
Better still, the dishwasher-safe Rambler is puncture- and rust-resistant, and the lid insulation is one-inch thick to help retain beer’s chill.
Capacity: 32 ounces | Material: Stainless steel | Insulation: Vacuum insulated in body and lid
Best for Adventure: Hydro Flask 64-Ounce Growler
Easy to carry
Several brewer experts sing the praises of the stylish, solidly built Hydro Flask growler. “The craftsmanship and quality materials of my Hydro Flask make it the go-to growler to keep my beer fresh and cold,” says Rhett Dougherty, the head brewer at Veza Sur Brewing Co., in Miami. “Mine is covered in stickers and dings that remind me of wonderful hikes, beach days, and breweries visited. I’ve had it for six years, and I will never part with it.”
The 64-ounce growler ensures beer stays cold during long days of adventuring, whether you’re in a boat or hiking a mountain. “I really like the Hydro Flask’s updated handle with a solid D-loop big enough to accept a climbing carabiner,” says Sean White, brewer and cofounder of Little Fish Brewing, in Athens, Ohio.
Capacity: 64 ounces | Material: 18/8 stainless steel | Insulation: TempShield insulation
Best for Home Bars: NutriChef Beer Mini Keg System 128-Ounce PKBRTP100.5
Customizable carbonation levels
Not easily transportable
Buying a keg of beer is a big commitment, both in space and volume. Instead, get a taproom-quality drinking experience with the sturdy NutriChef Pressurized Growler Tap System. The slim, keg-shaped growler holds 128 ounces of beer—equivalent to eight 16-ounce pints—and can sit comfortably in most fridges. Charged with carbon dioxide cartridges, the stainless steel NutriChef can keep beer fresh and carbonated for up to two months, and drinkers can tweak carbonation levels as needed. Fill the NutriChef with draft beer from your local brewery, or homebrewers can use the system to serve their own brewed creations, too.
Capacity: 128 ounces | Material: 304 stainless steel | Insulation: Additional insulator sleeve
Best Design: Reduce Insulated Growler, 64 Ounces
Only the lid is dishwasher safe
Most growlers prioritize function over fashion–luckily, Reduce didn’t skimp on either. This growler can keep 64 ounces of beer cold for up to 60 hours, according to the manufacturer. It’s vacuum sealed to keep your beer carbonated and fresh for a crisp taste. You don’t have to worry about spills, either, thanks to the leak-proof design. Perhaps best of all, this growler’s lid doubles as a cup, so you can drink wherever your next adventure takes you.
Made of stainless steel, Reduce’s growlers look sleek and modern. This one even comes in multiple colors, each with a beautiful gloss finish. Since Reduce is dedicated to creating sustainable products, this growler is quite durable and should last a very long time.
Capacity: 64 ounces | Material: Stainless steel | Insulation: Vacuum seal
Best Glass: Cornucopia Amber Glass Growler Jugs
Glass is a poor insulator
For those who prefer a classic look, we recommend these amber glass growler jugs from Cornucopia. These jugs can hold half a gallon each and have easy-to-grip handles. The dark tint of the glass protects the drink inside from UV light that could “skunk” the beer, and the phenolic lids keep a firm seal to make sure things stay as fresh as possible.
The downside to using glass is that it’s not a good insulator, meaning that it won’t necessarily keep your beer cold like other insulated growlers. That said, these growler jugs are great for doing more than just holding beer. In fact, you can use them to ferment your own home brews. Whether you stick to beer or venture out into cider, kombucha, or wine, these simple glass growlers are a good pick.
Capacity: 64 ounces | Material: Glass | Insulation: None
Best Large-Capacity: Buzio 1-Gallon Insulated Jug
Comes with two cups and carrying pouch
Sturdy, easy-grip handle
Heavy (around 5 pounds empty)
If you want to keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold, you’ll need a well-insulated growler. This one gallon version from Buzio has double-walled stainless steel with vacuum insulation that can keep drinks cold for up to 48 hours, or maintain heat for up to 24.
In addition to its great insulation and large capacity, this growler comes with two stainless steel cups and a sturdy carrying case. You can easily take this growler on hikes, out camping, or to tailgates and share drinks with friends. The outside is powder-coated, so it’s easy to grip and the canister won’t sweat. Buzio offers a number of color options and size differences so you can find the one that matches your needs best.
Capacity: 128 ounces | Material: Stainless steel | Insulation: Vacuum sealed and TempArmour insulation
“Growlers allow for you to buy beers that are super fresh, straight from the brewery. Packaged beers have been transported, usually from a brewery to a distributor to a store, so they often end up sitting for long periods of time, sometimes outside of refrigeration. Filling a growler directly from the brewery typically ensures that beer is fresh from the source and well cared for.” – Kris Ketcham, Senior Manager of Brewing and Innovation at Stone Brewing
What to Look for in Beer Growlers
Sizes can vary wildly for growlers. Some are a half gallon—ideal for trotting beer camping, to a party, or to the park. Others can hold the same quantities as a mini-keg, which works for parties or keeping on hand at home.
While growlers used to strictly be vessels for bringing beer home, some of the newer options on the market are pressurized—charged with carbon dioxide cartridges to keep beer frothy and fresh for far longer than a standard growler.
How long can your growler keep your beer tasting fresh? Preservation lengths can vary from a day or two to weeks depending on the model of growler. If you’re opting for a pint a day, a pressurized option will keep your brewery haul fresh for longer. If you have no problem sipping your way through a growler in a few days (or if you have a few friends to help), a standard growler should do the trick.
How long does beer last in a growler?
“Unopened, most beer will stay good in a growler for about a week. Once opened, it begins to lose its carbonation and should be enjoyed within 24 hours,” says Ketcham.
How much beer is in a growler?
The size of a growler can vary wildly. An average growler is 64 ounces, while smaller 32-ounce growlers are also widely found. For the extra thirsty, larger, mini keg-sized growlers will hold 128 ounces.
Do you need to refrigerate a beer growler?
“We definitely recommend refrigerating any growler of beer and any beer for that matter,” says Ketcham. “Keeping beer around 55 degrees is best for preserving its flavors and aromas, especially if you’re enjoying a beer with nuanced hop flavors.”
How do you clean a beer growler?
“After use, rinse the growler with hot water and store it with the top off. When you take it for a refill, the brewery will give it a good rinse again before filling,” says Ketcham.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats
Joshua M. Bernstein, the author of this piece, knows beer. He's penned five books on the subject, as well as articles for The New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, Men’s Journal, and Imbibe. He interviewed three beer experts for this article.
Kate Dingwall, who updated this roundup, is a sommelier and spirits writer, who has her BarSmarts and WSET certification. She interviewed one expert for this article.
Allison Wignall, who also updated this roundup, is a writer who focuses on food and travel. Her work has been featured in publications, such as Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and Southern Living.