I have amended my original article regarding Growler Cleaning. When I first wrote this article in 2012 , I was living in California which had strict Growler laws. Now some states Growler laws are becoming loose or strict and the wide range of growler materials is expansive. Here’s my two cents for getting your growlers filled along with some information from the Brewers Association and CraftBeer.com
♦Remember this is MY recommended growler cleaning and care guide. Some people may say do more or less depending on their preference. Now let’s get this going.♦
Growler cleaning may seem like a tedious task, but it is necessary for your growler’s health and for the taste of the next beer it will be filled with. Some breweries may swap or clean your growler for you, so it’s best to ask when getting your first growler fill. After a growler is filled and properly sealed, it can last anywhere from 2-4 days without being opened and properly refrigerated. After a growler has been opened, it is best to enjoy between 12-24 hours. “Draught beer is a lot like bread, best enjoyed fresh.” Brewers Association Facts About Growlers.
No matter if you or your brewery cleans your growler, after you have finished your last pour of beer, immediately rinse with warm to hot water. This will wash away any leftover beer suds and residue. If you have a cap top growler, rinse this as well.
The following guide is my own way of cleaning my growler. My steps are of my own accord. Failure to clean and dry your growler properly can result in mold, unwanted residue, cracks, or cause it to explode. CLEAN YOUR GROWLER AT YOUR OWN RISK.
*UPDATE* With simple homebrewing equipment, you can dramatically cut down your growler cleaning time. Simply after your rinse use a sanitizing agent like Star San or PBW and let air dry. NEVER USE BLEACH OR OTHER HARSH DETERGENTS. Find a local homebrew supply store for access to these sanitizers
For those of us that don’t have access to a sanitizer and you have a growler that needs cleaning follow the steps below.
Now after the rinse add a very, very small amount of unscented (non-abrasive) dish soap in your growler as hot water goes in at the same time. Note the Brewers Association Facts About Growlers also confirms that dish soap is OK as long as it is not fat or oil based!
After I have filled 3/4 of my growler with water, the soap from the bottom is being pushed out.
Now swirl, shake and dump the water from the growler and fill again with warm water.
Keep repeating until you can fill and dump water from the growler and no soap suds remain.
DO NOT PUT THE CAP BACK ON YOUR GROWLER! YOUR GROWLER MUST AIR DRY! FAILURE TO DO THIS CAN RESULT IN A GROWLER EXPLOSION!
I recommend the Growler Collar for screw top growlers. Otherwise a dish drying rack will work just as well.
That’s it! One final sniff test after your growler is dry will confirm no soap residue or anything else ill is inside. Take care of your growler and your growler will take care of you.
And if you have an old growler and are feeling crafty, you can make a growler lamp!