BEER TO GO
Understanding growlers, crowlers, and cans.
WRITTEN BY SUE EDMONDSON
PHOTO BY JAMIE KINGHAM
Most of us recognize growlers — those hefty 64- or 32-ounce refillable jugs. They’ve been around in one form or another since the 1800s, when taverns sent beer home in galvanized pails. They’ve come a long way since then, finally available in the 1980s in their current glass or ceramic incarnations. Most breweries and taprooms carry them, and growler-filling stations are so popular that the Raley’s on Robb Drive in Reno installed an eight-tap station, where you can bring in your own growler or buy one at the store. Reno’s South Virginia Street Shop-n-Go also has one — a 12-tap station pouring Nevada beers not often available in stores.
Move over growlers!
Crowlers have taken the beer-to-go market by storm. The 32-ounce, aluminum fill-and-seal cans offer benefits growlers can’t match.
“They’re perfect for our outdoor lifestyle,” says Matt Johnson, co-owner of IMBIB Custom Brews in Reno. “They’re lighter than glass and obviously don’t break, so they’re easy to take anywhere.”
“The beer tends to last longer [in a crowler] than in a growler because it’s not exposed to oxygen,” adds Melissa Test, brewer at Reno’s 10 TORR Distilling and Brewing Co. “And the cans are recyclable.”
Despite the benefits, you won’t find crowlers in every brewery or taproom. Although crowler-sealing machines are about the size of a small home espresso maker, they cost thousands, and the cans and lids add to the expense.
Cans on demand
Expense didn’t stop Bret Schaeffer, owner of Midtown Reno’s SixFour Growlers, from adding a crowler machine to his fill station. What’s more, he cans beer from his taps in 12- and 16-ounce sizes, and even better, there’s no minimum number or limit on the variety of beers he’ll can.
SixFour offers 29 beers (and cider and kombucha) on tap, rotating selections frequently. While taps include local beers, they also feature other American craft beers and imports.
“I try to source beers you can’t find anywhere else,” Schaeffer says. “Some of the imported styles have been around for 500 years, and I like to give my customers an opportunity to try them.”
Even though SixFour is described as a fill station, there’s a small bar and several tables where you can try a flight or have a pint. Schaeffer’s goal is to give customers the size and variety of beers they want.
“I don’t think anywhere else in town is doing what SixFour does,” he says.
When first seeing the word crowler, freelance writer Sue Edmondson assumed it was a typo.
1630 Robb Drive, Reno • 775-746-6400 • Raleys.com
12245 S. Virginia St., Reno • 775-853-6366 • Shopngoreno.com
555 S. Virginia St., Reno • 775-337-9578 • Sixfourgrowlers.com