Beer is great. Cold, carbonated beer is even better. That's why we go for insulated growlers, which keep your brews tap-fresh for hours. The only problem: there are dozens of growlers to chose from. To help you pick the right one, I put five of the most popular models through the wringer. Here's how they stacked up.
I filled all five 64-ounce insulated growlers with the same Barley Brown's Head Shake Imperial IPA from my local watering hole (Gils), then took them home, and let them sit in a 70-degree room for 24 hours. The next day, I used a meat thermometer to take the temperature of each beer in the growler, then poured the brews in pint glasses and took the temperature again. To test carbonation, I held a pint glass against a magazine holder (like the kind you'd find on someone's desk) to keep the angle consistent, while a friend slowly poured each growler. Then four of us sipped the beer and rated the bubbles. The final question we all tried to answer: Would we be happy if someone served us this beer in a bar?
Klean Kanteen Classic Growler ($70)
Temperature: Growler—47 degrees; Glass—51 degrees
Carbonation: Rated #1
Verdict: This growler was the tester favorite because it kept the beer the coldest and most carbonated. Everyone said they would have gladly pounded the same pint in a bar. The only complaints: we wanted a handle to facilitate pouring and a wider mouth for easier filling.
Stanley Classic Vacuum Growler ($50)
Temperature: Growler—48 degrees; Glass—52 degrees
Carbonation: Rated #2
Verdict: The Stanley was a close second to the Klean Kanteen when it came to beer temperature, carbonation, and drinkability. And unlike the Klean Kanteen it has a handle, and that old-school Stanley look.
DrinkTanks Insulated Growler (From $69)
Temperature: Growler—52 degrees; Glass—55 degrees
Carbonation: Rated #3
Verdict: While this growler didn’t perform as well as most of the others on this list, we loved the classic dual-bail clamping top. Plus, for $45, DrinkTanks offers a Keg Cap accessory that uses CO2 to keep your beer as bubbly as if it were in a kegerator.
Yeti Rambler Bottle ($90)
Temperature: Growler—48 degrees; Glass—53 degrees
Carbonation: Rated #4
Verdict: The Rambler bottle kept the beer plenty cold and drinkable, but we suspect it lost some carbonation as it doesn’t have a beer-specific lid. While it wasn’t top-rated among our testers, this is definitely the growler I want with me on summer river trips or off-road shenanigans because it’s the burliest (although almost most expensive) of the bunch.
Hydroflask Wide Mouth Growler ($55)
Temperature: Growler—52 degrees; Glass—57 degrees
Carbonation: Rated #5
Verdict: This growler didn't keep beer quite as cold or as bubbly as the other ones did, but we like it because it's almost as durable as the Yeti, for $35 less.