Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server.
Raise your hand if you know what a Crowler is. It’s okay if you don’t know. I’ll admit to having Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley” pop into my head when I think of the word “Crowler.” But I digress.
Crowlers are 32 oz. aluminum cans that start out open on top so they can be filled with beer like a growler. Rather than sealing with a cap, like a growler, a top is placed on the can that includes the tab opener that 12 oz. and tall boy cans have. Then the can and top are placed on a can seamer, which works like a can opener in reverse.
Once the Crowler is sealed, you can keep it refrigerated for up to a month. Of course, once you open these single-use cans, be prepared to enjoy all the beer inside. While these giant cans are not resealable, their modest 32 oz. volume does mean that you can take that special release to go. Beer in the can will keep reasonably well while you enjoy it if you cannot pour it all into glasses right away. A tip that Richard over at Aslin gave me is to put plastic wrap over the top when you put the unfinished Crowler back in the fridge. Just don’t keep it like that for more than a few hours.
Born of a desire to solve for the inconsistency reusable glass growlers and a need for an affordable and unbreakable growler, Oskar Blues worked with can-maker Ball to develop the Crowler. The result is a packaging option that looks and acts like something that came off a canning line, but actually was filled on demand.
The Crowler is so effective at packaging beer that local favorite, Aslin Beer Co. in Herndon, uses them — and traditional growlers — in place of traditional beer packaging. With their longer shelf life, it’s no surprise that you see craft beer lovers traveling with their Crowlers. It’s this portability and storability that makes this on-demand beer vessel an up and comer.
I was able to grab two Crowlers of beer for this article: J. Wakefield Brewery’s El Jefe hefeweizen and Ocelot Brewing Company’s Buddhist Prodigy DIPA.
J. Wakefield Brewery, El Jefe Hefeweizen (5.5% ABV)
I opened this Crowler first. I was impressed by the way the experience of this beer was preserved — the very fine effervescence that keeps this otherwise heavy ale light remained. By nature of the yeast that is used in this style of beer, you’d expect to smell and taste banana. That’s certainly in there, but the word here is coconut. It’s in the aroma and from the beginning of the sip through to the finish. While there is a brief sweetness, this wheat beer finishes with a malty quality common to a good hefeweizen. At 5.5%, this was a great beer for one or two in a Crowler.
Ocelot Brewing Company, Buddhist Prodigy DIPA (8.7% ABV)
This is the type of beer that is perfect for the Crowler. It’s relatively high ABV makes it a great beer to share with a friend or two. This beer was in its unopened Crowler for about a week and it came out as though it had been freshly poured. The flavors were crisp and the beer retained its appropriate amount of carbonation. I see a theme forming in this column — tropical flavors! Buddhist Prodigy is a passion fruit juice bomb that favors clarity over cloudy, but nevertheless tastes like drinking in the tropics. Rather than following the trend of tart passion fruit beers, this DIPA starts out sweet and fruity only to transition to a dank, piney finish. The Washington Post’s Best New Brewery of 2016 shows why with this delicious brew.
Head on down to Dominion Wine & Beer and grab some Crowlers then head home or to the beach or the mountains, and enjoy! Cheers!