Filling A Growler From A Homebrew Keg

Growler Filled With Homebrew BeerA surefire way to impress your friends is with your own homebrew draft system. But once in a while you may want to take some of your kegged beer on an adventure to a friend’s house, to the beach, or to a homebrew club meeting. Maybe you and a friend want to trade some homebrew. Maybe you want to submit some of your kegged beer to a homebrew competition.
Filling your homebrew keg is a piece of cake, but filling a growler from a homebrew keg can be a challenge. How do you trap all that precious carbonation inside the growler without it foaming out and going flat?
Just follow these six easy steps for filling a growler from your homebrew keg:

  1. Clean your growler. If it’s already clean, this may be as easy as a hot water rinse. A dirtier growler may need to be soaked in One Step. If you plan on storing it for any length of time (more than a day or two), you should sanitize it as well. Do forget to clean the cap, too!
  2. Chill it. Put the growler in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so. The idea is to have the container the same temperature as the homebrew, which will reduce foaming when you start pouring beer into the growler.
  3. Turn off the CO2 and vent most of the pressure from the keg. You want just enough pressure to gently push the beer out through the tap, but not so much that the beer creates a bunch of foam. You’ll get a good feel for how much to vent after filling your growler a couple times.
  4. Shop Beer GrowlersFill your growler directly from the picnic tap. Tilt the bottle to one side to minimize foaming and fully depress the tap to fill the growler to within about 3/4 inch from the top. Optional: Some people like to use a bottling wand inserted in to the spout of the picnic tap. Give it a try.
  5. Cap it. Put your cap on immediately to keep CO2 in the growler – and in your homebrew.
  6. Chill it. Chill the growler until you’re ready to drink it. The colder the beer, the more it will retain its carbonation.
  7. Drink it. You’ll likely loose a little carbonation in the process of filling a growler or bottle, so once you open the bottle or growler, go ahead and drink it all – I’m sure your friends will be happy to help!

What technique do you use for filling a growler from a homebrew keg? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with everyone else, below?
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.