Most Crowlers are filled with beer from the tap in tasting rooms.

Crowlers are typically sealed with a machine that’s similar to home canning systems.

The emergence of 32-ounce beer cans has given new meaning to the term “tallboy.” You can call it a Crowler. With the ability to contain not one, but two proper 16-ounce pints per can, the large-format vessels are a smart alternative to the traditional growler, a capacious but clunky glass jug used to take beer home from the bar or brewery.

Can makers at the Ball Corporation played catalyst for the trend when they released the 32-ounce format in addition to the standard 12- and 16-ounce versions back in 2013. Breweries like California’s Mission Brewery and Colorado’s Oskar Blues jumped on the idea. The former developed a canning line with Cask Brewing Systems to do the packaging behind the scenes and sell in retail stores. The latter formulated a can-sealing machine based on the idea of home canning systems. This machine caps off the large containers right at the tap for people visiting the tasting room who want to bring some precious fresh suds home.

Now breweries across the country are offering the Crowlers (get it? Growler + can? It’s a term trademarked by Ball, by the way). The idea sounds all well and good, but the real question is: Are these monster cans really better than growlers, or are they just more fun?

Brewers who embrace the technology are quick to point out the myriad benefits. The beer will stay fresher longer because aluminum protects the liquid from light and oxygen damage. Aluminum doesn’t shatter and is easy to recycle (each can is made of 68 percent recyclable materials). Cans are also easier to haul around than a cumbersome glass jug, making them ideal for outdoor activities and traveling. For those of you who aren’t great at cleaning growlers, cans also prevent the possibility of flavor cross-contamination.

There seem to be few downsides to the vessels, outside of the fact that the cans are good for one-time use only, whereas growlers are infinitely refillable. They’re also harder to shotgun.

For the most part, it really boils down to how quickly you want to drink said beer. Mission Brewery says they fill growlers and sell the large-format cans, and the two vessels “don’t seem to compete with each other,” as both serve different functions. Growlers are for taking beer home and drinking immediately (and come in larger 64-ounce sizes as well), whereas the larger cans can be stored for some time since oxygen doesn’t impact the beer during the filling process.

The new packaging option is spreading like wildfire around the country, but here are a few breweries around the country that currently offer beer in the satisfying 32-ounce size.

1. Mission Brewery, San Diego, CA
One of the first breweries to run with the large-format cans, they currently offer four different beers in retail shops and at the brewery: the El Conquistador, a hoppy session IPA; Shipwrecked, a heady double IPA; Cortez Gold, a Belgian blonde ale; and Mission IPA, a traditional “San Diego-style” ale. They also package in 12- and 22-ounce glass bottles, but don’t can in any other size.

2. Oskar Blues, Longmont, CO
Long known as vocal pioneers for packaging beer in cans, Oskar Blues is also responsible for helping breweries around the country set up sealing machines so they can offer the Crowler can option. The brewery offers every beer that’s currently on draft at either the Colorado or North Carolina tasting room in the large format. Yes, this often includes the delectable Ten Fidy Imperial Stout.

3. DryHop Brewers, Chicago, IL
All of DryHop’s beers are available in Crowler form at the brewpub in Chicago. Owner Greg Shuff says they wanted to go with the large format for all of the aforementioned reasons, but also because it's a more cost-effective option, since the $0.90 cost can be worked right into the price of a fill. The guests are happy, the owners are happy — everyone wins.

4. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
Oskar Blues helped set up a machine in the taproom at this venerable Florida brewery. They stopped production last summer after reports of leaky seals but were back up and running shortly thereafter with an improved system that has the power to seal 15 cans per minute. 

5. Cuvée Coffee, Austin, TX
Curveball! Oskar Blues gave this Austin-based coffee company the idea to use cans instead of growlers for packaging their coffee, but they’ve since used the larger Crowlers to sell the collaboration beer they made with local brewery Austin Beerworks. Sputnik is a Russian imperial coffee oatmeal stout that’s out of this world available on tap at the coffee shop. They will also use Crowlers in the future whenever an unusual or limited-release beer is on tap, so people can leave with a beer doggie bag of a brew they wouldn't otherwise be able to drink at home. 

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