Growler 101 with Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

Have you ever sampled a beer at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant and fallen in love with its flavor? Silly question, we know. Oftentimes, we hear patrons rave about our award-winning beers and wish that they could take some home to enjoy. Growlers (64 ounce glass jugs) are the perfect way to bring a taste of Iron Hill beer to your next gathering or simply to savor it in the comfort of your own home.

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Senior Head Brewer Andrew Johnston from our Media location gives us the full 411 on how to  maintain your growler and keep your beer tasting like it’s fresh from the tap.

How long does beer stay fresh in the growler if unopened?

“At Iron Hill, the practice has always been to consume your growler beer within a 48-hour window. The reason is that beer is kept under pressure, free of oxygen and at a certain temperature. Once you open that tap handle and dispense beer into a glass or a growler, you are removing it from that pressurized environment. This allows carbon dioxide to escape out of the beer. That’s why those last few sips of beer from your pint glass don’t taste as carbonated as those first sips. You also expose your beer to oxygen, higher temperatures and light—all of which begin to degrade and change the flavor of your beer. Beer is bottled under a very regulated and pressurized environment, so bottled beer will keep longer than your growler of beer.”

How long does the beer in a growler stay fresh once it is opened?

“Once you open your growler, I would recommend drinking the beer within the next couple of hours. Make sure you have a friend around to help you polish one of those growlers off! After I open a growler and pour off my beer, I will seal it up and place it back into the fridge or ice chest.  The colder environment will help to keep the beer fresher and from degrading too fast. Plus, I like my beer cold. If I fail to finish off my growler, I will usually find some way to incorporate it into a dish I am cooking. Beer makes a great substitute for water in many recipes, especially baked goods.”

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What is the best way to clean your growler?

“I recommend a rinse with warm tap water and either running it through a dishwasher (if your growler says it is dishwasher safe) or soaking the inside with a little dish detergent and then rinsing with warm tap water. At Iron Hill, we frequently replace your growler with one that we have cleaned ourselves. We have specially designed dishwasher racks on property that fit in our glass-washing machines. This helps to get those Iron Hill growlers good and clean for their next go around.”

Do I have to have an Iron Hill growler, or can I bring in one from another brewery?

“At Iron Hill, we will fill up any brewery’s 64 fluid ounce growler. And, if the growler from the other brewery is dirty, we will trade you for one of our growlers. I can’t tell you how many different breweries’ growlers I have collected over the years from people trading them out with us!”

Are there any beers you won’t put in a growler?

“The only two types of beers we won’t put in growlers are our nitrogenized ales and our cask-conditioned ales. Nitro ales are served using a blend of 75% nitrogen and 25% carbon dioxide. Our typical draft beers are served using a blend of 80% carbon dioxide and 20% nitrogen. Nitrogen, just like carbon dioxide, wants to leave the liquid, but is much faster about it.  Think about the delicious cascading head of our Dry Stout—it’s creamy and full of nitrogen bubbles escaping the beer. Once that nitrogenized ale hits the glass, it loses carbonation at a much faster rate. Carbonation doesn’t keep in those beers as well as our regular draft items. So if a guest were to take our nitrogenized ale home in a growler, he or she would be disappointed upon pouring it. Cask-conditioned ales are naturally carbonated, meaning we don’t force carbon dioxide into it, we allow the beer to undergo a secondary fermentation in the cask.This secondary fermentation creates a softer carbonation, which can only be truly enjoyed at the restaurant.”

What else should we know about the maintenance of growlers?

“The most important thing to remember is to keep your beer cold and free from light once it is in your growler. Also, drink the beer in your growler within that 48-hour window to ensure freshness. If your glass growler has been around the block a few times, it might be time to trade it in for a new one. I’ve heard stories of freak accidents where an old growler has cracked on the car ride home from the brewery or bottle shop because it had so much wear and tear on it. That is one reason to cry over a spilled beer!”

How much does a growler of beer cost?

“The prices will vary depending on the beer. For instance, our house beers will cost between $17 and $19 for the beer and the growler, while a refill will range between $13 and $15. The price of our seasonal beers will vary greatly, costing between $16 and $25 for a fill (add $4 if you’re purchasing a growler). Check with your bartender or server for details.”

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Growler Deal!

Are you ready to take some of our beers home with you? Swing by any of our locations and get two pizzas and a growler of house beer for just $25! This deal is good for take-out only Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to close, and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to close. Seasonal and Belgian beers are available for an extra charge.

Note: This blog entry originally appeared in June 2014 and has been updated to include the most current information. Thank you for your continued support of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant.

With 12 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Ronna Dewey

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