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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 harmful sunlight. Here are our picks for the best beer growlers.
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, dishware-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.
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.
“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.
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, car, bike, 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, the brewer and a co-founder of Little Fish Brewing, in Athens, Ohio.
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.
Over the course of a couple weeks, the team at Pure Project, a sustainably focused San Diego brewery, blind-tested a number of growlers to find the perfect vessel to preserve carbonation and flavor. “We landed on the Klean Kanteen flip-top growlers,” says Mat Robar, a Pure Project founder.
The 64-ounce container is made of food-grade stainless steel, and the simple-to-clean interior does not retain or impart any unwanted flavors. “We love that it's super-durable, double-wall insulated, all-metal, and has a sturdy flip top that stays closed and does not leak when tossed around or thrown in a pack.” Another selling point is that Klean Kanteen is a U.S.-based company with “killer customer service,” Robar says.
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.