May 25

Camping With Homebrew

Growler and Pints at Joshua Tree
I’m sure many of you are like me and share a passion for both homebrew and camping.  The challenge, of course, is how to easily bring homebrew along with you when you’re in the great outdoors.  I have experimented with a range of options from bottles to traditional glass growlers in coolers all the way up to portable keg serving setups.  I’ll cover the keg options at a later time but right now I want to focus on what has been extremely easy and reliable for me recently.

Last year Hydroflask released a 64 ounce double walled stainless growler:

I got one right away and have been using it consistently for the last year and a half.  Overall I’ll say that while it’s not a cheap product I think it is well worth the money.

Right off the bat you’ll notice that your beer foams very little as you fill from your taps.  I have pretty well balanced draft lines so get little foam anyway but compared to glass growlers I notice this one has consistently much less foaming.  My guess is that it’s a combination of the stainless steel having little thermal mass and being polished extremely smooth so there are no nucleation sites.  In practice this means that I’m able to fill a growler right from the tap without having to use tubes, jockey down the pressure, or wait for the foam to subside.  I typically take around a minute to get a full 64 ounces.  The silicone o-ring sealed screw cap holds pressure well and is very easy to close.

So how does it do in terms of keeping the beer cold?  I’m sure you won’t believe me but I’ll say I’ve had numerous occasions where I had beer for 24+ hours in the growler without any kind of cooling and was able to pour it at near kegerator temperatures.  It’s good enough that on two separate Joshua Tree trips to the desert I haven’t even bothered putting the beer in a cooler.  Heading down to the homebrew shop or a club meeting is of course no challenge.

Is there anything I’d change about this growler?  Honestly the only thing is that it’s a bit pricey.  I’d love it if it was closer to $25 but I certainly don’t regret paying full price.  If mine were lost or stolen I’d replace it in a heartbeat.  I’m also thinking of getting a second so I can easily have a full gallon of beer with me.

The second half of the problem with taking homebrew camping is that you don’t have your favorite glasses to drink from.  I tried and compared two different options that attempt to fill this gap. The Silipint is a silicone drinking vessel in the shape of a traditional pint.  The benefits are that it is indestructible, relatively light weight, and moderately insulated.  On a cold night it’s nice to have your beer in a Silipint and not have to freeze your fingers.  I was worried about getting an off flavor or an odor from the silicone but after the first couple of washings it’s totally inert.  I have noticed that the silicone surface results in a lot of off gassing and a foamy pint.

The second choice, and my strong preference, is a new offering from Kleen Kanteen: the Stainless Steel Pint.  These light weight stainless steel pints are extremely durable.  While you might think you’d get a metallic flavor from the pint in fact it’s totally neutral.  In fact when compared side by side my homebrew tastes better from these than the Silipints.  I think the reason is that they are inert and pretty much get out of the way.  Their only downside is that on a cold night they can get your hand pretty cold.  They do help block any sunlight from skunking your beer, which is a plus.

If I were to buy again or recommend a solution to friends I’d go with the Kleen Kanteen Stainless Steel Pint. They are a solid choice at a good price and the beer tastes great.  Overall when you pair them with the Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Growler you can’t go wrong.  This is my go-to setup whether I’m heading to the beach, camping in the desert, or simply taking beer to share with friends.

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