Changing Craft Beer with Crowlers

As with other beverages, aluminium provides the perfect sustainable packaging for beer.
22 February, 2017
The traditional take-home growler from local breweries is being upgraded to the recyclable aluminium Crowler.
Craft beer enthusiasts have long taken home their favorite brew in an oversized glass growler with a screw-on cap sealer. The growler makes it possible to enjoy the taproom experience away from the tap itself, and bridged the distance for local breweries without other retail solutions. Customers who purchase a reusable growler bring it with them when they come in and leave with a fresh fill.
What is become increasingly popular compared to the existing glass growler, however, is the Crowler®, a 32-ounce aluminium can filled with the beer of the buyer's choosing. It is then machine-sealed on site, letting the customer can enjoy their beer later without lugging the heavy glass around, worrying about whether it has been properly cleaned, or exposing the contents to the damaging effects of light.
The Crowler idea was introduced at the Oskar Blues Brewery in the United States, using a tabletop machine that was commonly used in the past for canning homemade foods in steel. The All-American Can Company, makers of the portable canning machine, worked with the brewery to modify the machine for the softer aluminium, and to adjust the height to accommodate the growler-sized cans.

At the same time, Oskar Blues worked with the Ball Corporation – a household name for canning in America – to find the perfect can for their craft beer Crowlers. The cans are made from 68 percent recycled aluminium, and help customers celebrate sustainable choices along with a favorite brew. They can come into the tasting room as they would with a growler, but leave with a personalized, sealed can.
Oskar Blues purges the cans with CO2 before filling them, and then immediately pours and places the lid on. A pedestal is turned so that the can is raised up and locked under pressure into the seamer, which seals it with the press of a button. The aluminium can is then released, as if it were off the shelf ready.

The Oskar Blues team had been canning craft beer since 2002 and were pioneers in the packaging, but once they took it a step further with the Crowler, other craft breweries wanted to offer it too. There are now 600 of the modified canning machines in use, all with the Crowler seamer and sealing technique.
"In the current craft beer landscape, brewers and beer drinkers alike are accepting cans as the premium in beer packaging, and it makes sense that this trend would grow—quite literally." - Bon Appetit
It is the aluminium, though, that is keeping the beers fresher, according to enthusiastic craft breweries. The average glass growler will keep beer fresh and carbonated for about three days, but after that it will start to degrade.

By comparison, the Crowlers will keep beer fresh for about 30 days instead. That is especially important for big-name craft breweries that have become trendy tourist destinations. When someone travels to a city and makes sure to visit a tasting room, they usually want to take some beer back home with them.
Yet the aluminium canning option isn't a novelty solution. Indeed, it is fast replacing the growler at lots of craft breweries. Ultimately, that is because craft breweries are obsessive about their beer and want to ensure it is experienced exactly as they intended it to be. The aluminium Crowler offers the advantages of better protecting the beer and the customer experience they value most.
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