Category Archives: Growlers

Hands on Review: TrailKeg 1 Gallon Growler, Regulator & Tap

This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Brad Probert.  Brad is an engineer, expert homebrewer and experienced reviewer.  Grab a link to Brad’s website at the end of this review.

TrailKeg 1 Gallon Pressurized Growler

I abandoned bottling quite a while ago for the same reason so many do- kegging is so much easier. And draft beer is much more rewarding/special than bottles when drinking at home, or hosting a party. Of course taking that beer to a party isn’t as simple as grabbing a few bottles and heading out the door, though. But like every problem in life that presents itself, solutions are found.

At breweries, their solution is the growler. You fill up your half gallon glass jug with your favorite beer, they put a lid on it, and you take it home. But this has limitations. Akin to pouring a glass of beer and then setting it in the fridge to drink later, beer in growlers lose carbonation and go stale tasting after a few days. The solution to this problem is the pressurized growler.

TrailKeg makes pressurized growlers. They come in half gallon and one gallon size. The half gallon is smaller and lighter, but only nets you about 4 beers. That works if you’re taking a beer to share with a friend or offer small tastings at a party. But the full gallon growler with its 8 beers is a much more social size. You’re obviously not going to fuel the whole party with that, but when the host tells you to bring a 6-pack of your favorite beer to share, you get bonus points.

What makes pressurized growlers “pressurized” is the fact that they have ports on them to let you pressurize with small CO2 cartridges. The small 16 gram cartridges contain enough CO2 to keep your beer pressurized and dispense all of your beer. Effectively, they turn your growler into a mini portable keg. The mini CO2 regulator has a tiny pressure gauge, and after you hook it up, you turn a pressure adjustment knob to dial in the serving pressure you want.

PerfectPour Dip TubePerfectPour Dip Tube Opening Comparison

And speaking of serving pressure, TrailKeg has an optional add-on accessory which was a dip tube with what they call a PerfectPour, which seems to be unique in the industry. It’s a cylindrical length of silicone that slides on over the bottom of their regular dip tube, and has a really small opening in it. With such a small hole, you have to be certain your beer doesn’t have hop bits floating around in it, but the concept solves a common problem on these small pressurized growlers. In the keg you probably carbonate at 10 psi or higher, but if you go over 5 psi in these growlers you get a foamy mess. With the PerfectPour restriction of the small hole, you can dispense out of your growler at the same pressure as you carbonate in your keg. No compromise.

Since your “mini keg” isn’t in your kegerator, it will get warm just sitting on the counter or tabletop. So TrailKeg made their growler insulated, by making it double-walled with an air cavity in between. As you may or may not know, air is an excellent insulator. For it to be effective, you have to trap the air and not let it move around, which is what you get when you hear “double walled insulated”. By trapping the air in between an inside layer (where your beer is) and an outside layer (where the warm air is trying to ruin your beer), you get great insulation. TrailKeg says their design keeps your liquid inside cold for 24 hours.

In transport mode

To get the cold beer out of this growler, the same lid that has the CO2 port also has a ball lock disconnect post, just like a Corny keg. This lets you keep it well sealed to avoid accidental spillage when transporting it to your party, and then you just pop on the ball lock fitting and are ready to go. Within the package that comes with the lid, TrailKeg has a cool set-up with a tap directly connected to a ball lock fitting. This completes the mini keg experience with a “kegerator on the go” delivery of your draft beer direct from an actual tap.

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Hands on Review: Weekend Brewer 5L Mini Keg Growler + Ball Lock Lid, Micro Regulator & Tap

This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Brad Probert.  Brad is an engineer, expert homebrewer and experienced reviewer.  Grab a link to Brad’s website at the end of this review.

Weekend Brewer 5L Mini Keg Growler

You might wonder what a “Mini Keg Growler” is. The name tells you that it’s for draft beer. The Weekend Brewer obviously came up with that name as an indication of the melding of two functions together. One is the transport of draft beer from point A to point B- Growler. The other is using it to store [small amounts of] beer for dispensing in a draft system- Mini Keg.

Size comparison vs a 1 gallon milk jug

The 5L Mini Keg Growler is about the size/proportions of a gallon milk jug. It has a small screw-on lid with a silicone seal, for use as a growler. It’s made of stainless steel to make it much more durable than a glass growler. It’s not insulated, which has the drawback of not being able to keep itself cold sitting out on the counter. However, by not having a double wall construction with a barrier of air in between, that means its overall size is smaller and hence much friendlier to sit inside a refrigerator or cooler. To get something in this size in an insulated configuration, you’d have to decrease the amount of beer you could fit in. So they decided that bigger is better. There is a neoprene sleeve you can buy as an add-on if you want to go that route.


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To use as a Mini Keg, they sell lids that have dispensing hardware built into them for putting CO2 in and getting beer out. The most keg-like of these lids is a small stainless steel machined lid that screws in to replace the regular lid, and has two ball lock posts and Pressure Relief Valve. Yes, exactly like your Corny Keg. With the ball lock fittings, you can stick it in your kegerator and hook up your normal gas and liquid lines to use it for small volume brews (5 Liters is just over 1.3 gallons).

Growler with Ball Lock Lid InstalledMicro CO2 Regulator 30 psi Gauge

Being smaller than a full-sized homebrew keg, you can more easily take it with you to a party and hook up various mobile options to supply CO2 in and get the beer out. The micro regulator they sell screws onto a threaded gas ball lock disconnect and then you can attach various size CO2 cartridges. It has adapters so it can take 3/8” threaded 16-gram cartridges, or the larger 5/8” threaded 74-gram cartridges. The 16 gram size has plenty of CO2 for dispensing 5L of beer. But it can also be handy to have the flexibility of using the regulator together with a Corny keg if you’ve got bigger plans.

Hands on Review

The growler has a brushed stainless external surface to help it stay looking good and not be prone to smudging and fingerprints, and it looked good. The opening size of the growler seemed a bit on the smaller size when it came to washing it out afterwards and being able to do a good visual inspection inside, but as a trade-off, the smaller size made it much more manageable when using it as a growler and trying to pour beer directly from it into a glass.

The dual ball lock top was excellent. This provides a great amount of flexibility in options for how to get CO2 in, and how to get the beer out. Notably, if you’re going to do a fill/vent cycle a few times with CO2 to reduce Oxygen in the headspace, you can kill a 16 gram cartridge pretty fast (learned through personal past experience). Having the option to just hook this up to my keezer CO2 bottle supply, I was able to work through this and keep the small cartridge CO2 just dedicated to serving beer at the party. And I’m not a 1-gallon batch brewer, but if you were, this dual ball lock lid lends itself to the various different low oxygen closed transfer processes out there.

Picnic Tap and Liquid Ball Lock in Dispense Kit

I did have some issues with air pickup in the dip tube while dispensing. I was running a lower pressure of about 4 psi, but the beers were coming out about 2/3 – 3/4 foam. I tried using different dispensing options like a long run of tubing with a picnic tap, but still had issues. If I ran a very low pressure of 1-2 psi, I could get the foam down to a manageable ~20-25%, with a very patient pour. However, I found I could eliminate the foaming issue by replacing the harder plastic pick-up tubing inside with a softer silicone tubing. The silicone was able to conform more to the fitting on the inside of the lid and make a better seal, preventing it from sucking in air on its way out of the growler. I highly recommend you go this route (I passed this suggestion/finding along to the owners of Weekend Brewer, and they were going to explore this more, as well).

Conclusions

Overall, the Weekend Brewer Mini Keg Growler creates an interesting proposition for those that are looking to get into 1-gallon batch brewing, but want to keep their current kegerator/keezer set-up. And the versatility of the double ball-lock lid provides lots of options to allow you to dual-purpose these kegs and take them with you, as well as use them as low oxygen fermentation or transfer vessels.

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Also: Kegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | Recent Keg Finds

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Double Ball Lock Lid- InsideMicro Regulator Customizable Adapter for Different CO2 Cartridges Mini Keg Growler Screw-on Lid with Silicone Seal Ring

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Special Thanks to The Weekend Brewer for providing the unit used for evaluation in this review.

By Brad Probert.  Check out Brad’s website – beersnobby.com

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Hands on Review: Spotted Dog CO2 Pressurized Growler Dispenser – works with standard glass growlers

Pressurized CO2 Growler Dispenser Tap for Glass Beer Growlers by the Spotted Dog Company

This setup consists of a regulator, growler dispense cap, faucet with tubing and dip tube.  It’s designed to fit standard glass growlers.  This allows you to serve tap beer from a standard growler as you want to.  Since it’s regulated, you can keep carbonation levels up and reduce oxidation.  Note that a growler is not included and you need to buy CO2 cartridges separately.

Hands on Review

A look at the cap, faucet and tubingA look at the included mini CO2 regulator.  Note that this is a regulator as opposed to an injector.  Injectors give you no regulation of pressure other than the amount you choose to inject.  This is an actual regulator that you can set to a desired pressure.  That’s a key feature since this is intended to be used with compatible glass growlers.

You can also use this with your homebrew keg… This regulator features a female flare connector (the brass piece on the right side of this photo).  That means you can install it on a ball lock or pin lock MFL QD [Search MFL keg disconnect] and use it on a ball lock or pin lock homebrew keg.  Whammo!A look at the faucet.  A standard picnic/cobra style tap with a small length of tubing attached.A look at the inside of the dispense cap.  Notice the included o-ring/gasket.  The cap feels sturdy and well built.A look at the cap top-down.  A PRV is installed on the top of the cap.  That’s for venting to help adjust pressure or when you’re ready to remove the cap.  The male flare at the bottom is for installation of the included regulator.A look at the entire assembly after a soak in PBW.  Note that I did not soak the regulator in PBW.  That was installed after cleaning and rinsing the cap, faucet, tubing and dip tube.Installed on a growlerA look at the front of the CO2 pressurized growler dispenserA close up of the regulator dial.  The gauge on this regulator reads 30 PSI.  Under no circumstances should this be set at 30 PSI.  I keep it under 10 PSI.  For serving I’ve found that just 1 or 2 PSI is sufficient.  It’s important that you read and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for this unit.  In the background: Gridmann Commercial Stainless SinkA top down look at the adjustment knobTop down look at the entire unitA side view look at the dispense cap.  My cap says “Max Pressure 15 PSI”.   I keep it under 10 PSI.  For serving I’ve found that just 1 or 2 PSI is sufficient.  It’s important that you read and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for this unit.A look at the PRV valve
The picnic tap hangs nicely on the growler handleI found this easy to clean.  After removing the regulator, I rinsed the entire assembly, making sure there was some water left in the faucet tubing to help start a siphon.  Then I placed the unit in a tub of PBW and opened the faucet (below the unit and tub of PBW).  That starts a nice flow of PBW that you can let run out.  Of course, I did all of this in my Gridmann Commercial Stainless Sink.  I consider a quality utility sink an essential piece of homebrew gear.

Compatibility

Beyond standard growlers this will work with other compatible growlers that use standard 38mm caps.  Examples: The Prowler PET Growler and 128oz Stainless Steel Insulated Growler by Spotted Dog Company.  It will also work with some gallon size jugs as long as they are pressure capable and use standard threads.  For the larger gallon containers, you may need to swap out the dip tube tubing for a longer length.

Conclusions

The beauty of this setup is that it works on standard glass growlers.  Many locales or breweries only fill their branded or specially marked growlers.

This does have some safety implications, it’s important that your growler is in good condition and capable of holding pressure.  That’s always true whether you’re using this or not.  Growlers hold pressurized beer and should be capable of doing so at proper pressures.  Make sure to read and follow the directions that come from the manufacturer and set this to a safe PSI for your particular growler.  The good news is, not much pressure is needed to serve beer.  As I’ve already mentioned… you don’t need a lot of pressure to serve beer with this, just a 1 or 2 PSI.

This allows me to preserve beer, commercial or homebrew, using an easy to find standard growler so that I can drink it at my own pace.  This is well built and converts a compatible growler into a featured packed mini keg that helps to preserve beer so you can drink it at your desired pace.


From the product description, check product page for current description, price and availability:

  • PRESSURIZED growler dispensing has never been easier with the new Pressurized Growler Dispenser Tap. Fill up your favorite standard glass growler, attach the tap cap and regulator, use a single 12g CO2 cartridge and you’re ready to dispense!
  • BREWERY FRESH beer every time you go for another pint. The CO2 mini regulator lets you dispense your favorite craft beer at it’s proper serving pressure like it is straight from the tap!
  • PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE allows for easy oxygen purging to keep your beer fresh for weeks. Don’t settle for flat, tasteless growler beer ever again!
  • UNIVERSAL fit with all standard 64oz and 128oz glass growlers with 38mm threaded caps. Save money over expensive pressurized growler systems by using your existing growler with the Growler Dispenser Tap!
  • Don’t forget the cartridges! Cartridges are sold separately. We recommend 12g or 16g threaded food grade CO2 cartridges. Search Amazon for B07GNVKTS9 to find ours. A 12g cartridge will easily dispense 64oz of beer.

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Pressurized CO2 Growler Dispenser Tap for Glass Beer Growlers


The Weekend Brewer 6-Pack 12g 3/8″ Threaded Disposable CO2 Cartridges (6, 12g)


Related: Hands On: the Growler Saver Pressurized Growler Cap – note that GrowlerSaver is now defunct | Tips and Gear for Growler Filling

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Special thanks to Spotted Dog Company for providing the unit used for evaluation

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Hands on Review: Insulated Neoprene Growler Tote by Built NY

This is a hands on look at Built NY’s Insulated Neoprene Growler Tote.  It’s made from stretchy neoprene (wet suit material) which helps protect and insulate 64 oz growler bottles during travel.  It also stores flat when not in use and is machine washable.

I picked up two of these, because… sometimes I like to tote two growlers. 🙂

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Hands on Review: GrowlerWerks uKeg 128 Pressurized Growler!

growlerwerks ukeg review

This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Brad Probert.  Brad is an engineer, expert homebrewer and experienced reviewer.  Grab a link to Brad’s website at the end of this review.

GrowlerWerks uKeg 128

When I initially migrated from bottling to kegging, I was glad to be free of bottle wrangling. I didn’t have to keep boxes of empties, deal with cleaning/sanitizing, or the bottle-filling process. I also didn’t have to deal with bottling sugar calculators that had me making bottle bombs with cold-fermented lagers, or ales that sat mysteriously for weeks without developing carbonation of any intensity. But not long after leaving the bottles behind, I ran into the issue of how to share my beers. Of course I could invite people over, but there’s always that party at a friend’s house or a neighbor that really likes NEIPA but can’t make it to your tasting party.

To keep your homebrew mobile, you can go the way of glass growlers like the brewery taprooms do. It’s got the same appeal at home as it does at the brewery- cheap and easy. But it limits you on key aspects of freshness and ability to stay cold at a party. If you think about it, it’s akin to taking a 4-pack of your favorite beer you want to share, opening the bottles and pouring it into an empty pop bottle, and screwing the lid on it. Let’s face it, your homebrew is a labor of love, and it’s natural to want to show it off to friends & neighbors. So when you think a bit about the best way to present your baby, it’s not surprising homebrewers look for something beyond the glass growler with screw-on lid.

GrowlerWerks came onto the homebrewing scene when it completed its successful Kickstarter campaign in December of 2014. They initially launched with a high-tech upgrade to the standard glass growler with their 64 oz pressurized/insulated growler. The 128 oz version came along about a year later with all the same features, but with a full gallon capacity. That’s a great difference. The uKeg 64 holds four 16-oz pints. That works well for loaning out a sample to a friend. The uKeg 128 holds eight 16-oz pints. Now you’re talking something useful to bring to a party. The 64 almost felt like more trouble than it was worth to take to a party, unless you were bringing more than one brew. But with the 128 you don’t have to show up and then hide it until your craft brew friends find you and get to sample it before it’s gone.

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Hands On Review: Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Growler! – Includes Temperature Trials

cln_0-64-out

Stanley’s Stainless Steel vacuum insulated growler features vacuum insulated body and foam insulated lid to keep beer cold for 16 hours.  Made of 18/8 stainless steel and BPA free.  The heavy duty handle makes it easy to carry and allows you to pour smoothly with one hand.  Steel inner lid means no plastic is in contact with your beer.

It’s available in multiple colors and sizes, both 64 ounce/2 Quart/Half Gallon capacity as well as in a smaller 32 oz size.  It’s also part of a Gift Pack Set that includes the growler along with stacking pints.  Stanley makes a non-insulated version version as well.


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Since this review was published, additional models have become available.  Search Amazon for “stanley vacuum insulated growler” to see what may be available.


Hands on Review Stanley Vacuum Insulated Growler

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Hands on Review: EcoVessel BOSS Stainless Steel Triple Insulated Growler with Infusion Basket

Eco Vessel Beer Growler

Hands on Review EcoVessel BOSS Growler

The EcoVessel BOSS Growler boasts stainless steel construction, triple insulation, an infusion basket and a unique cap that gives you two choices and features a plastic strap that attaches to the growler.  It has a standard 64 ounce capacity and comes in multiple color options.

cln_img_8988Top of the growler.  This growler has two openings.  A larger one for filling and pouring and a smaller one for drinking.  Both have gasketed seals.

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A look at the top of the infusion basket

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Hands On Review: DrinkTanks Growler and Keg Cap

The DrinkTanks Growler is a Stainless, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growler.  It has an optional Keg Cap that converts the growler into a mini draft keg.  This is a look at the 64 oz size, but it’s also available in a larger 128 ounce/1 gallon version.  Additional colors and handle styles are also available.

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Hands On Review: Stainless, Vacuum Sealed Double Wall, “Barrel Style” Growler!


If you’ve read Homebrew Finds for long, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Lifeline’s line of Stainless, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growlers.  The quality, looks and amazing insulation capabilities of this line of containers has made me a fan.

Here’s a Hands On Look at Lifeline’s  “Barrel” Model 7508 Growler.  Spoiler: It’s larger than it’s stated size.

Note: Since this review was published the design of this growler has changed.  Search Lifeline Growler on Amazon for current designs and availability

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Hands On Review: Lifeline 64 OZ, Double Wall Stainless Growler – Two Temperature Tests

This is a review of the Lifeline’s 7500 64 oz, Double Wall Insulated Stainless Steel Growler.

Note: Since this review was published the design of this growler has changed.  Search Lifeline Growler on Amazon for current designs and availability


Front side of the label.  It Reads: Vacuum-Insulated Double-Wall. Vacuum insulated to keep liquids hot or cold all day.  Double-wall technology prevents condensation & keeps outside wall of bottle at a comfortable temperature.  Lightweight 18/8 stainless steel is 100% recyclable   It has no liner and will not retain odor or taste.  Stainless Steel.  BPA-free.


Reverse side of label (click for a larger view)


Inside of view of growler


Bottom of growler


Inside of lid


Product logo


Reverse side – Vacuum Insulated – 64oz/1.9L – 18/8 Stainless

For size comparison – next to a standard growler

Temperature Test 1:


I filled this growler full of cold water.  It ended up leveling out at 42.6 deg F.


Next, I placed this outside.  It was a warm day.  My CDN DTQ450X read 87.9 deg F at 6:17 PM


I brought the growler inside at 9:07 PM.  At that time it was 79.1 deg F.


The contents were still at an amazing 45.5 degrees.  That’s a loss of 2.9 degrees over nearly 3 hours of sitting in 87.9 – 79.1 deg F ambient temperatures.  That ends up being an average of 1.02 degrees per hour.  That’s crazy.

Temperature Test 2 – Side by Side Comparison with Standard Growler:

For this test I decided to ensure that each growler held the same mass of water.  I did that by weighing both growlers and then subtracting the weight of the growler itself using the tare feature on my Escali Primo scale.  Note that while the next two pictures were taken during that process, they do not show the weight of water that was used.  I’m including them only so that you can compare the weight of a standard growler vs this stainless growler.


Weight of a standard growler 1,113 grams.


Weight of this stainless growler 772 grams.  The stainless growler is 30% lighter.


After getting the same amount of water in each growler I decided to chill these down in my fermentation deep freeze.  Figuring that this would be a good way to get the contents close in temperature.  I let these chill for a few days.  They did get close in temperature but they were not identical.  The standard growler came out at 37.5 deg F and the stainless growler came out at 39.2 deg F.  Why the difference?  I’m not sure, but I theorize it’s related to the insulation capabilities of the stainless growler.


This is very early on in the test.  Notice the condensation on the standard growler.  Notice no condensation at all on the stainless growler.


The starting ambient temp was 82.1 deg F.  I picked up a Taylor 9940 Thermometer for this test because of it’s water proof probe and it’s long cable lead.


This picture was taken around first temperature check at 7:50 PM.  If you look closely you’ll notice a puddle of condensation running down this table.  The stainless growler continues to be bone dry.


 First temperature reading standard growler.  61.7 deg F.


First temperature reading stainless growler.  41.4 deg F.

Results:

In the first period of the test, from 6:03 PM to 7:50 PM.  The standard growler lost 24.2 degrees vs the stainless growler’s loss of a mere 2.2 degrees.  That’s a difference of 22 degrees!  1.23 degrees per hour vs 13.57 degrees per hour.  By the time you get to the last period, the standard growler is looking quite a bit better, but the fact is that it’s almost hit ambient temperature.  In all over a span of 3.8 hours, the stainless growler lost mere 4.4 degrees.

I tried to perform these two tests in semi-extreme environments.  Most of the time you won’t be just sitting a growler out in 80 or 90 degree weather.  Performance in more realistic room temperature scenarios should be all the better.

Carbonation:
The question has arisen as to whether it is designed to hold carbonated beverages.  I contacted the manufacturer and was told that yes indeed it is designed to work with carbonated beverages.  I’ve also tested this myself.  I chose to test with carbonated soda water, thinking that the high carbonation level would be a good test.  I let the carbonated water sit in the growler for four days.  It worked great.

This is a great growler.  It looks amazing and the insulation performance blew me away.  It also makes it into places that glass isn’t welcome like a pool or beach.

Note: Since this review was published the design of this growler has changed.  Search Lifeline Growler on Amazon for current designs and availability

Top Post: Tips and Gear for Growler Filling

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