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How Long Does Beer Last in a Growler? 12 Things to Know

Looking to try some craft beer from that new brewery? If so, you might want to pick up a growler ahead of time. Growlers are a great way to enjoy local beer at home.

How long does beer last in a growler? In this guide, you’ll learn factors affecting beer life, how to know if beer is fresh, ways to make beer last longer in a growler, and how to choose the best growler. Plus, learn how to store and care for beer in a growler.

how long does beer last in a growler

Are you ready to learn about beer growlers? Then, let’s get started!

How Long Does Beer Last in a Growler?

Beer in a growler will last from several days up to two weeks. There are 3 variables affecting beer life in your growler: type of beer, type of growler, and how long it remains unopened.

3 Factors Affecting Beer Life in a Growler

  1. Type of Beer: Delicate beers (hoppy beers and pale ales) should be consumed fresh. They’ll begin to lose the delicious aspects quickly. In contrast, sours and barrel-aged beers will remain fresh longer.
  2. Type of Growler: There are two growler options: pressurized and non-pressurized (screw top or swing-top gasket). If your growler is pressurized, it will retain carbonation and flavor notes longer.
  3. Opened or Unopened? Once you break it open the first time, the clock starts running. Introducing fresh air (oxygen) will accelerate the fermentation already in process. And the carbonation loss will quickly make your beer flat.

And if you open your growler, the beer will go flat much faster. It’s the same as saving a half bottle of Coke in the fridge overnight. It still tastes like Coke, but it’s more like juice than soda.

The freshness of your craft beer will depend on the type of growler you’re using. Typical screw-top or swing-top gasket growlers will keep your beer safe for a few days. However, a pressurized growler can keep your beer from going flat and staying fresh for two weeks or more.

3 Factors to Know Beer Isn’t Fresh

How do you know if your growler beer isn’t fresh? You’ll know that the beer is not fresh if it turns sour, loses its carbonation, or tastes watery.

  1. Turns Sour: You’ll know this when it happens. It will have a vinegary flavor – notable different from your first sip from the growler.
  2. Goes Flat: Once your beer loses its carbonation, it won’t be as satisfying to drink. And it will probably remind you of juice instead of a craft brew.
  3. Tastes Watery: As it begins to break down, the mouthfeel will change. This is due in part to the loss of carbonation, but it is more than that. The flavor notes reduce as it ages beyond the ideal window.

Does Beer Continue to Ferment?

Beer is like wine, in that it continues to age and ferment after bottling. But with beer, this can be problem.

As beer sits, it will continue to ferment. But don’t be fooled into thinking your beer will become better with age. Beer doesn’t become unsafe to drink as it matures, but it will begin to taste flat — either because it loses flavor or develops an off-putting flavor profile. The flavor will be best during the first few months after it is bottled. 

How Stuff Works

Does Beer Go Bad?

The short answer is yes, beer can go bad. But it is actually a fairly nuanced issue.

How long does it take beer to go bad? It really depends on the type of beer we’re talking about. Sours take much longer to make and won’t go bad as quickly as a typical ale.

When beer goes bad, it is often said that it “turned”. This usually means that it has gone vinegary.

Here’s a brief overview of the question: does beer go bad?

6 Ways to Make Beer Last Longer in a Growler

Here are some practical tips to help keep your beer fresh longer in a growler.

  1. Buy a Quality Growler: You will also want to use the best quality growler to make the beer last longer. Look for a pressurized growler like this one by GrowlerWerks.
  2. Avoid Sunlight: Keep it out of the direct sun to ensure it’s fresh. The darker the better.
  3. Keep it Cool: Keep the beer growler cool and refrigerate.
  4. Keep it Sealed: Non-pressurized growlers that stay closed will let you keep the beer fresh for around three days or more. As such, you can ensure your beer lasts longer in a growler by keeping it closed until you’re ready to drink the whole thing.
  5. Don’t Savor it Too Much: Lastly, you should drink it quickly once you’ve opened the growler. 
  6. Share With Friends: Invite some friends over if the growler is too large for you. While this step will make it disappear faster, at least it won’t lose its freshness and be wasted.

Test: Growler Beer vs 1 Week

In a series of seven videos, this creator taste tests a non-pressurized growler once a day for seven days.

As you might expect, the quality goes gradually downhill until it becomes undrinkable at the end of the week. Here is his final video for the test.

Spoiler: His screw cap growler didn’t preserve the beer for more than a few days.

4 Factors that Make the Best Beer Growler

The best beer growler depends on how it will be used.

  1. Material: Growlers are commonly made with glass, stainless steel, or plastic. Glass growlers are most common. Stainless steel is good for blocking light and for pressurized containers.
  2. Insulated: This is good if you’re taking it on a picnic or somewhere else you would like to keep it cold.
  3. Pressurized: If you aren’t planning on consuming the beer within a few days, this is an important feature. Growlers with this feature are a little expensive.
  4. Other features: Carry handle, dispenser tap, pressure gauge, sight glass, variable sizes, carbonation cap.

Here are two growler options, depending on how it will be used.

  • For Events: A vacuum-insulated container like the Stanley Easy-Pour Growler has also ranked at the top of the line of beer growlers. It can keep beer cold and carbonated for 24 hours. This one isn’t pressurized, so you’ll want to consume most of this within a day or two. Best for a picnic with a small group.
  • For Longer Use: If you want the growler to last over a week or two, you should consider a pressurized growler. This one by GrowlerWerks has customizable carbonation levels, a dispenser tap, and sight glass to show liquid levels. This growler uses CO2 chargers.

Both of these options are great for long-term use. You should get years of use from each of these growlers.

Common Growler Questions

Below, we put together several answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about growlers.

How long is beer in an unopened growler good for?

If you keep your growler unopened and sitting in the refrigerator, it can last anywhere from one to two weeks. Pressurized growlers can last two weeks or longer.

Once you have opened the growler, it should be consumed within a couple of days for the best flavor. After a couple of days, you might notice that it has begun to turn. This problem can be mitigated by using a growler that can be pressurized.

If you have a larger growler, you might invite some friends over to help you responsibly finish it off. 

How do I keep my growler from going flat?

First, you will need to use the right container. Make sure it seals well after adding beer. If air gets in, then the CO2 can get out – and the beer will go flat faster.

To keep the beer from spoiling, make sure to avoid leaving it in direct sunlight.

Also, store the beer growler in the refrigerator. Make sure the temperature stays between 33° and 44° F (0° to 7°C). This varies with different types of beer. Here’s the full chart.

How long does beer last in the fridge?

You will find that bottled beer can last up to six months in a refrigerator if left unopened. However, growlers have a much shorter shelf life in the fridge.

The beer will stay fresh in a growler for several days once refrigerated. The growler will need an airtight lid to keep the beer fresh. 

History of Beer Growlers

Growlers are mostly containers used to transport beer from microbreweries and restaurants. These containers were first used in the late 1800s to sell beer for take-out.

The very first growlers came in the form of galvanized pots. 

When men carried their beer home in these containers, they heard a carbonated noise that sounded like growling. Therefore, they named the containers growlers. 

The term “growler” was introduced in 1893 in a July issue of Harper’s Magazine. By the 1950s, waxed cardboard containers were used to transport beer. 

Learn the difference: Crowler vs Growler

5 Different Growler Sizes

Growlers come in several different sizes, such as:

  • 32 ounces (0.894 liters)
  • 1 liter (33.81 ounces)
  • 64 ounces (1.89 liters)
  • 2 liters (67.63 ounces)
  • 1 gallon (3.79 liters)

Essentially, you can purchase different types of growlers depending on how much you need at the time.

It can even help you save money when providing microbreweries with your own growler. Most places will fill it up as long as the growler doesn’t have a different brewery’s name on it.

Stone Brewing explains why they can’t fill growlers from other breweries.

Alcohol laws vary from state to state. In California, any brewery information printed on the outside of the growler must correspond with the producer of the beer inside the growler. In short: A Stone growler can only be filled with Stone beer. This means we unfortunately can’t fill growlers from another brewery. We can, however, fill a blank growler, or a growler with any other brewery information permanently obscured or removed. (Sorry, no duct tape.)  

Stone Brewing
how long is beer good in a growler

Keep Reading: 18 Best Portland Breweries

Your Turn

How about you? What has been your experience with how long beer lasts in your growler? And what do you do to help it last longer? Please join me in the comments.