I’m a fan of beer growlers. My husband and I have a few from our favourite breweries, and they take turns tagging along with us when we go out for dinner so we can bring some fresh draft beer home with us.
What I don’t like about beer growlers is their thin necks and tiny openings that make them challenging to clean. But if you handle them properly (and immediately), they’re easier to keep clean than you might think.
Clean it right away
As soon as you’ve poured that last ounce of beer, rinse the growler out a few times with hot (but not boiling) water. If you’ve got a sprayer attachment on your sink, that works great to get into all the crevices of the growler, but regardless, immediate hot water poured in and swished around should do the trick.
Soap can leave a residue on the glass and affect the taste of your next beer, so most beer connoisseurs recommend against using dishwashing liquid. (That includes putting the growler in the dishwasher, which you shouldn’t do anyway because it might get chipped or damaged by other dishes.)
Other more effective options for extra-dirty growlers is to fill them with water and a little vinegar and swish or soak it with water and a bit of unscented OxiClean. If you’re a regular growler-user, it might be worth investing in a bottle of Star San, a foaming, no-rinse sanitizer.
If you’ve got a soft-bristle brush or baby bottle brush, that can help scrub out any residue from the nooks and crannies, too; but steer clear of wire brushes that can damage the glass.
Let it air dry
After it’s rinsed, turn your growler upside down and prop it up so it has some breathing room to air dry. Let it air dry completely (a moist growler is a breeding ground for bacteria). Then — and this is important — do not put the cap back on. Do not store your growler with the cap on. Air needs to circulate in the growler to avoid bacteria growth, especially if you’re not using it regularly. Store the growler tucked away someplace where dust or debris won’t find its way inside.
If you didn’t clean it right away
We should all clean our growlers immediately and properly upon consuming the last drop, but sometimes we don’t. If you’ve finished your beer and you’re not in the mood to clean up (or you’re not near a sink), the folks at The Glass Jug recommend storing it in a cooler or refrigerator. The cold temperature will help limit any bacteria growth until you’re ready to clean.
When in doubt, give it a whiff
After you’ve cleaned it — and again before you are about to refill it — give that growler the old sniff test. If it smells funky, it is funky and you’ll need to rinse again. If it’s odourless, you should be good to go.