Cellaring the Growler: stupid or no?

Discussion in 'Cellaring Beer' started by normyk, May 16, 2014.

  1. normyk

    normyk

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2013
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    This is half cellar report half stupid question half uncomfortable confession. Bear with me. Hear my sins. Hear my shame.

    A couple of years ago I bought a 1 gallon growler of Weasel Boy Bourbon Barrel Anastasia. Cool looking growler and last I'd had the beer I found it very tasty. I figured slam dunk. Save it for a tasting and share. Plus I have a killer growler for my glass collection.

    Fast forward to 2014. My growler of 2011(?!) BB Anastasia is still in the cellar. Heard people opened theirs to share and downhill was the consensus. For most tastings I had either forgotten about the growler or had not wanted to risk inflicting a sub-par beer on people. However, the growler gives me dirty looks when I venture into the cellar.

    May 16, 2014: you want me to open you so bad? FINE! I'll open your over the hill ass!
    Aroma: not bad.
    Appearance: uh oh, we're two for two - it's pretty
    Taste: nice and mellow - smoke, oak, and stout - think young bourbon vs old
    Mouthfeel: smooth - possibly smOOooth
    Drinkability: more like drunkability - goes down easy - too easy
    Overall: I've had many BA stouts fresh that don't stand up like this does with 2 1/2 years on it - what's up with that?

    Redemption. Sweet sweet redemption.

    Frankly, I'm shocked. Who'd a thunk this would be so nice?

    Anybody else cellar growlers?
    How? Conditions? Floor or shelf or fridge? Counter pressure or normal fill? Etc?
    Do you make a habit of this sort of thing?
    What styles have you had luck with?
    Results?!

    I'm curious. I expected a long and annoying drainpour and instead am facing the prospect of killing a gallon of this beer this weekend. I'd like to know if others have had success at this game.
     
  2. drgarage

    drgarage

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2013
    Location:
    Fran Sanfrisfro!
    So long as it was well-filled, anything is possible. Stouts would probably fare better than any others, given that black malts are a bit anti-oxidative...
     
    normyk likes this.
  3. jedwards

    jedwards

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2013
    Location:
    SF
    Flip-top or screw-top? I've had similar experiences with flip-top growlers (I've never had a long-term-stored screw-top but given that I've had those go flat in a couple weeks...) and wouldn't hesitate to cellar a well-filled one for awhile. How was the carb level?
     
    normyk likes this.
  4. normyk

    normyk

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2013
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    Full disclosure: carb was nice. If I'd poured this out of a bottle I'd have been pleased.
    Screw-top, but plastic heat shrink I believe.
     
    jedwards likes this.
  5. PurityControl88

    PurityControl88

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Location:
    Omaha/Topeka
    I've always been told not to, but last time one of the local breweries had their 10 year old barleywine on tap, the bartender mentioned they had just opened up a growler that had been filled with the first batch and it was great. Who knows though?
     
  6. lurchingbeast

    lurchingbeast

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2013
    My best Czar Jack experience was with an ~11 month old growler back in 2011. Beer was outstanding.
     
    richardflyr and Treebs like this.
  7. Treebs

    Treebs

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    Chicago Burbs
    If filled properly a growler can last for quite some time. I got a growler of Founders Imperial Stout filled at the brewery during the winter of 2012 and opened it summer of 2013 (completely forgot it was in the downstairs fridge). It was just as good as an aged bottled.
     
    barleywinefiend likes this.
  8. pmoney

    pmoney

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2013
    Location:
    Illinois
    I aged growler of Haymarket BA Indignant Imperial Stout for a year. It was a screw-top growler, and I dipped it in wax about an hour after having it filled. I also kept it in the fridge. I brought it to DLD 2013 and gave pours to everyone with an empty glass, and everyone was surprised at how well it had held up. Smooth as can be, good carbonation, etc.
     
  9. jtmartino

    jtmartino

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2014
    Location:
    West
    The only difference between beer in a bottle and beer in a growler is oxygen exposure. A lot of hand-bottled beers see a similar amount of exposure as a well-filled growler.

    If the growler is sealed well, it becomes a similar environment to a bottle, perhaps with slightly more O2 exposure. But that's not always a bad thing - oxidation can create a lot of desirable flavors in beer.

    I'm a big fan of screw-top growlers with this cap:

    [​IMG]


    They seem to retain carbonation better than any swing-top I own. And the caps are dirt cheap at Northern Brewer (<$1 ea.)
     
  10. Lutter

    Lutter

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I love a certain local Berlinerweiss that comes out only once a year on tap and goes quickly (Austin Beerworks Einhorn) and last year filled 3 growlers "for science" (at $9/64oz, it wasn't an expensive experiment).

    Every single one of them tasted great... the last one being opened in March at a tasting... almost 10 months after it was put in the growler. Gonna fill 5 this year. I even kept one at room temp and it was fine both in taste and carb. Just cheapo screwtops from Whole Foods.
     
    tx_beer_man likes this.
  11. justforrazors

    justforrazors

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Location:
    Springfield, MO
    A friend of mine brought a screw top 2 liter growler of an English barleywine aged in sherry barrels to a tasting a while back. It was the original release of a now seasonal local beer (foggy notion) brewed in either 2010 or 2011. He had stored it in his beer fridge since getting it filled. We opened it back in December of 2013 and as soon as we heard the hiss we knew we were good :D. Drank better than bottled versions of the same vintage stored the same way. As long as the filling procedure is good (clean growler, filling from the bottom close to the neck of the growler) I see nothing wrong with it.
     
  12. bjorn

    bjorn

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2014
    Location:
    Corvallis, Oregon
    I've been wanting to try this out for years but was always told it was a bad idea. So many great releases are tap only and it'd be fun to try to cellar some. You guys have convinced me to give it a shot!
     
  13. JoeStepOner

    JoeStepOner

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    Location:
    Detroit/E. Lansing, MI
    Been wanting to try this with Kuhnhenn Imperial Creme Brule Java Stout but its so damn good fresh. "for science" maybe. They even have those cool screw top caps at the brewery.
     
  14. stakem

    stakem

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2013
    Location:
    Pee Eigh
    A friend of mine has been doing this sort of experimentation for about 10 years now. He has shared growlers that were 4, 6 and 8 years old with me and they have been fantastic. (Imperial Stouts and Barleywines) Granted, when he fills a screwtop growler that he knows he is going to age he washes and sanitizes it and then literally wraps teflon tap on the growler to assist in making an extra tight seal. Shy of purging it with co2 and using a sanitized fill tube, its almost as good as getting a bottle to age.

    I still have a growler of apple brandy hunahpu that ive been hesitant on opening because I suffer the same dilemma as you. It could be great but I dont want to be that dick who shares a bunk growler with a bunch of people.
     
  15. aml42000

    aml42000

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2013
    Location:
    Seattle, Wa
    Works fine if the fill is good, the cap isn't bent/damaged, or ideally if they use counter pressure or a beer gun on the fill. Refrigeration is optimal.
     
    barleywinefiend likes this.
  16. barleywinefiend

    barleywinefiend

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Location:
    Huntsville, Alabama
    I have filled growlers of barley wine from my kegorator that lasted two years.
     
    aml42000 and Treebs like this.
  17. furley

    furley

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2014
    popped a 2 year old imp stout growler (fuck, i can't think of which it was) after Great Taste last year. tasted great to me. no one else complained.

    still have an appx 3 year old growler of NG Barleywine in my beer fridge. screw cap. went from the taproom at O'so to my fridge and has remained there ever since.

    at this point i'm terrified of it
     
  18. rainer

    rainer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    What kind of growler? Screwtop or fliptop?
     
  19. juanmalamunga

    juanmalamunga

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Great thread and great to hear so many experimenters! my kind of peoples. Whats the hooplah about counter pressure fillers? Anyone know about those? Ive had a few growlers that lasted months but havent aged anything longer than that
     
  20. furley

    furley

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2014
    screwtop
     
    rainer likes this.