Growler Fight

uKeg comes on the scene to compete with the DrinkTank Growlers. 

This happens near every time—somebody comes out with an innovative product that changes the game, then someone comes along to challenge it.

In this case, it’s a field that’s been widely contested since the rise of Growler Fill Stations.

Enter the Growler industry—an increasingly popular, local-centric corner of the craft beer industry that has reignited local beer sales, allowing breweries and fill stations to send four pints to go. I would be shocked to hear that anyone who has stepped foot into a beer establishment hasn’t heard of or seen a growler before.

DrinkTanks9So, with revolution comes innovation. The Hill brothers, building off an idea from their late father, developed and produced DrinkTank growlers, a handled double walled stainless steel vacuum-insulated monster of a vessel with the option of switching out the top to add a CO2-charged cobra tap. To see the beast in action, check out my article on New School Beer.

I personally own the Drink Tank in the photo to the left, and I use it as my go to growler (along with my SS Growler).

This morning, I saw an ad on www.newschoolbeer.com for a growler kickstarter campaign. I, being a curious craft beer consumer, clicked on the link. The campaign was for an innovative growler that has the tap system built in. I did a little reading and watched the video and…

Holy cow, this thing is (potentially) the real deal.

What are the problems with a standard growler?

1) They are breakable. Hydroflask, 50/50, Drink Tank and others have already solved that by bringing Stainless Steel into the picture. Next.

2) They are difficult to hold well. Traditional glass growlers have a tiny finger loop that—given large hands—don’t amount to much. Hydroflask, 50/50 and SS Growlers all don’t have any sort of handle. Drink Tank has an amazing stein-like sturdy handle—in my opinion one of the huge upsides to the option.

3) Open the top, beer goes flat. Remember that time you opened a growler of medium-strength pale ale or IPA and decided you might as well drink the whole thing to keep the beer from going bad? Me neither, because it was a rough night after the fourth pint. Drink Tank tried to address this, but it doesn’t quite work that way. To apply the keg tap, Dan Hill told me you have to pour the first beer, thus opening the lid. After that, it’s a ticking time clock until your beer goes flat, even with a CO2 charge.

57b02e913b40ae04409edadd88ef5939_largeOne downside I had toward Drink Tank was that it was gimmicky—if you’re opening the growler, you’re going to pour it from the opening and not the tap. The only real advantage I saw to the slightly difficult cobra tap top was at my homebrew club, when I could pour off of my kegerator and each person could pour a little beer for themselves from the growler. Other than that, the top is difficult to clean well and you often get a foamy pour. I don’t hardly use my $40 keg top anymore.

It appears uKeg has addressed all these problems and made what appears to be the perfect growler. An internal regulator keeps oxygen out and consistent CO2 on the beer, much like an actual keg. The beer is pulled from a bottom spout, which should limit foam production given a purge of the line. A sight glass lets you know how much beer is left in the growler without opening the top. The whole thing is stainless steel (with an outside, gorgeous copper-plated option) and insulated, making it perfect for hot summer days pouring cool beer after a hike. Not to mention, the growler will come in a 1-gallon size—that way you can get more beer for less money and not be out after four thirsty drinkers raid your kitchen.

Oh yeah, and it’s a work of art.

Here’s my take: the DrinkTank growler is still amazing. But, as far as the keg system goes, uKeg takes all of DrinkTank’s lofty ideas and makes them realistic, in theory. I still want to get my hands on one of these guys and try them for myself. Until then, it’s on my wish list.

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