Tested: The Best Growlers

The best part of fall, in my humble opinion: seasonal beers. And the best way to transport beers to a campsite? A growler. But not just any old jug. To pick the top performer, I tested products from six major brands, rating them on their ability to keep brews cold and carbonated. 

The Test

First, I filled each growler with 38-degree Wolf Tree Spruce Tip Red Ale at my local watering hole, Gil’s. To measure how well they kept the beer frosty, I put them in the back of my car for six hours on a 77-degree day, then took the temperature of the beer inside each vessel. Next, to test carbonation, I poured the brew from the growlers into a pint glass held at a 45-degree angle, measured the head, and tasted the beer. I also took notes on the ease of pouring and cleaning after the beer was gone.

The Results

growlers
(Sarah Jackson)

#1. DrinkTanks 64-Ounce Insulated Growler ($ 74)

Insulation: 4/5
Carbonation: 4/5
Ease of Use: 5/5

The DrinkTanks was the second-best insulator here (it delivered solidly cold 44-degree beer) but came out on top for its ease of use and carbonation retention. It was a close contest with the Klean Kanteen, but the DrinkTanks’ wider opening made it easier to fill and empty, plus simple to clean. I found the lid a bit complicated—two hinged metal clips fasten it down—but it’s hard to complain too much about that since those clips are what enabled the beer to keep its suds. The DrinkTanks is also one of the best-looking growlers, with throwback styling that belies the modern double-walled insulation.

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growlers
(Sarah Jackson)

#2. Klean Kanteen Insulated Beer Growler ($ 55)

Insulation: 4/5
Carbonation: 5/5
Ease of Use: 3/5

This Klean Kanteen retained carbonation better than any other growler here and kept the beer just as cold as the DrinkTanks. But the smaller opening made it hard for me to get a hand inside for scrubbing. I also docked the Klean Kanteen a point for not having a handle, which made pouring the beer a bit more difficult.

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#3. Miir Stainless Growler ($ 42)

Insulation: 3/5
Carbonation: 4/5
Ease of Use: 5/5

Miir is known for sleek designs and its growler falls nicely in line. The subtle ergonomic handle made pouring beer a breeze. Thanks to that and the wide mouth, the Stainless Growler tied for first with the DrinkTanks in usability. But the carbonation and temperature retention were a notch below, leading to a somewhat tepid, slightly flat beer after all those hours in my trunk.

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growlers
(Sarah Jackson)

#4. Hydro Flask 64-Ounce Growler ($ 65)

Insulation: 3/5
Carbonation: 4/5
Ease of Use: 4/5

The Hydro Flask was a favorite among my friends for its streamlined aesthetics: classy powder coating, plain black lid, and small black handle. It was at the same level as the Miir for insulation and carbonation, but that small handle does have its downside; pouring beer with one hand was a touch harder.

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growlers
(Sarah Jackson)

#5. Stanley Go Growler with Ceramivac ($ 70)

Insulation: 4/5
Carbonation: 3/5
Ease of Use: 4/5

This industrial 64-ounce container looks like it could survive a nuclear war. But despite the stout build, it didn’t hold carbonation as well as the others here. It did, however, maintain a refreshingly cold temperature over six hours in the heat.

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growlers
(Sarah Jackson)

#6. Otterbox Elevation 64 Growler ($ 70)

Insulation: 5/5
Carbonation: 2/5
Ease of Use: 3/5

Otterbox makes bomber coolers, so it was no surprise that the Elevation 64 Growler had best-in-test insulation, delivering a crisp 42-degree beer. Unfortunately, the brew was also almost flat. Coupled with the skinny opening and lack of a handle, that fact earned it last place on this list. But if you don’t need fizz, the beautiful and burly Elevation 64 will do just fine.

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