Growlers are a type of jug used to store and transport beer. Most growlers are made from glass, ceramic, or stainless steel, which means they’re a cinch to clean. In fact, all they need most of the time is a quick rinse with hot water. If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your growler, fill it with hot water and a teaspoon of oxygen-based cleaner or powdered brewery wash and allow it to soak for about an hour.
EditSteps EditRinsing out a Lightly-Used Growler Run the water in your sink until it’s as hot as it can get. Turn on the tap and let it begin warming up. As it does, go ahead and pour out any beer remaining in your growler. You want it to be completely empty before you begin rinsing it. Hot water kills more bacteria than cool or room temperature water. Fill your growler up with hot water and swish it around inside. Hold the growler under the faucet so that the stream flows directly into the mouth. Once it’s about half full, put the cap on the jug or press your palm over the mouth and shake the water back and forth. The gentle agitation of the water will help rinse stale beer residue off the walls of the jug. Pour the water out of the growler. Turn the growler upside down to drain the rinsing water. Give the jug a quick shake to make sure it’s completely empty. Be sure to run some water over the outside of the jug as well. Hold your growler with both hands to avoid accidentally dropping it—a wet growler can get pretty slippery. It may help to loop a finger or two through the handle near the top. Repeat 1-2 more times as needed. If you can still see or smell traces of beer inside your growler, you may need to rinse it out a second or even third time. Continue filling, swishing, and draining until the water runs clear. It shouldn’t take more than 2-3 rinses to make a lightly-used growler as good as new. Allow the growler to air dry with the cap off. After making sure there’s no lingering water inside, set the jug aside on a countertop or other flat, stable surface to dry. If you like, you can place your growler upside down in a dish drying rack. Just make sure the mouth isn’t covered, as this can cause moisture to become trapped inside. Place a towel or some folded paper towels beneath the growler to soak up any droplets of water run off the outside of the jug. It’s important to leave the cap off of your growler as it dries to promote airflow. Any excess moisture that’s allowed to remain inside the jug is likely to result in mold or bacterial growth. EditSoaking a Stale Growler Fill the growler with hot water. If you have an older growler that reeks of spoiled beer, your best option is to soak it. First, make sure there are no traces of beer left inside. Then, turn on the faucet and run a stream of hot water into the mouth of the empty jug. Fill it up to the top. Leave of space near the mouth of the growler to add your cleaning product of choice. Add 1 teaspoon of oxygen-based cleaner or powdered brewery wash. Use a measuring spoon to portion out your cleaning agent to make sure you’re not using any more than you need. Dump the cleaner into the mouth of the growler and let it begin dissolving. This should only take a few seconds in the hot water. Oxygen-based cleaners use the power of oxygen to eliminate odors and lift heavy stains. They're completely safe to use it in your growler or other food and beverage containers. Powdered brewery wash is an alkali-based detergent commonly used by bartenders and distillers to sanitize brewing equipment. You can find it and similar products online, or at any store that carries home brewing supplies. Let the growler soak for 1 hour. Place the cap on the jug and find a spot for it out on your countertop. As it sits, the solution will go to work breaking down bacteria and odor-causing residue on the interior walls. Afterwards, your growler will be fresh and clean and ready to be refilled. There’s no need to scrub or wipe your growler (the narrow mouth of the jug would make this tricky, anyway). Just sit back and let your cleaning product do all the heavy lifting! Consider setting a timer so you’ll know when to come back and drain and rinse your growler. Empty the growler and rinse it with clean water. Remove the cap from the jug and pour its contents out into the sink. You may notice a slight discoloration in the water that comes out—this is a good thing, as it means the solution is doing its job. Once the growler is empty, swish it with hot water a few times to flush out the last of the cleaner. The residue you rinse out of an especially dingy growler may be amber-brown, gray, or even black. Yuck! Don’t forget to give the outside of the growler a quick rinse, too, especially around the mouth. Air-dry the growler with the cap off. Place the jug on the countertop or in a dish drying rack to dry naturally. This may take anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on the surrounding conditions. Be sure to leave the mouth uncovered throughout the process to prevent moisture from hanging around inside and encouraging the growth of bacteria. Not only will a germy growler throw off the taste of your favorite beers, it could also potentially make you ill. Towel drying isn't recommended, as it can leave bits of fiber behind on the walls of your growler. If you insist on drying your jug by hand, make sure you do it with a lint-free material, such as microfiber. EditKeeping Your Growler Clean Rinse out your growler as soon as you finish using it. Right after you polish off or pour out the last of your beer, give the jug a quick rinse with hot water. The longer it sits with droplets of leftover beer stagnating inside, the more likely it is to develop a sour smell and require more thorough cleaning. The simplest way to maintain a growler is to get in the habit of washing it out immediately. Refrigerate your recently-used growler until you can clean it. If for some reason you’re unable to sanitize your growler right away, put the cap on it and stick it in the fridge. The cool temperatures will help stave off the growth of mold and bacteria until you can give it some attention. Remember, you should always refrigerate your growlers if there’s still beer in them. Check to make sure your jug doesn't smell after you've cleaned it. Hold the mouth of the jug up to your nose and take a whiff. A well-sanitized jug will have no scent. If you detect the faint odor of vinegar, it means that there’s still some residue remaining, and you’ll need to rinse or soak it again. If you’ve tried cleaning your growler multiple times and still can’t get rid of the smell, it may be a lost cause. In this case, it’s best to just throw away and acquire a new one. Store your empty growler with the cap off. This will allow air to circulate throughout the jug, ensuring that it dries completely and making it difficult for bacteria to set up inside. Situate your growler somewhere where dust or debris won’t be able to find its way inside, such as inside the pantry or on top of a high shelf. Just as moisture can cause germs to grow inside a sealed wet jug, the air in a dry jug can quickly become stagnant, producing an unpleasant musty smell. EditTips At most breweries and beer bars, you can have your beer put in a growler to take home with you when you buy a selection on tap. You can also buy growlers from online suppliers any store that sells home brewing equipment. Growlers made of amber glass will keep your favorite beers fresh longer than clear ones. The tinted glass helps block UV rays, which can quickly turn beer sour. Some beer merchants may sanitize your growler free of charge before refilling it. In that case, you won’t have to worry about anything other than enjoying your beer! EditThings You’ll Need Hot water Oxygen-based cleaner or powdered brewery wash Measuring spoon Clean, dry towel or paper towels Dish drying rack (optional) EditReferences
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