With the return of warmer weather comes the need to cool down and chill outside—preferably with a nice, cold beer. Camping is one pastime that’s always better with a beverage, however, with the beating sun and the lack of air conditioning, you’ll need some help keeping your brews cold.
The solution? A proper camping beer growler.
What is a beer growler?
It’s peculiar to explain what a “growler” is in the context of enjoying beer while camping, because the “growl” in growler has nothing to do with that bear that may sneak into your campsite if you don’t properly store your food away. The term “growler” has been around for at least the late 19th century. It was used to describe any container that could hold a sizable amount of beer. When carbonated beer released gas it sounded like a growl, hence the name.
Over the years, growlers have evolved from buckets to jugs to vessels with vacuum-insulated technology that keep drinks cold or hot.
A good camping beer growler is essentially any sturdy container that can maintain the temperature and pressure of the cold, carbonated brew inside.
How long does beer last in a growler?
Outside of the realm of camping, growlers are often big glass jugs that hold either a half or full gallon of beer. However, with these glass containers, the shelf life of the beer lasts only a few days due to the impact of light.
When beer is exposed to sunlight’s UV rays, a chemical reaction occurs within the hops’ compounds, producing an unpleasant odor and taste. The result is what people refer to as “skunked beer.”
The disadvantage of cans is that they aren’t insulated. A good beer koozie may keep a can cold for a little while in the summer heat, but a vacuum-insulated camping growler can take it to a new level.
What size growler do I need?
Growlers come in a whole host of sizes. The one you choose will depend on your camping style.
A 32-ounce growler holds two pints, a half-gallon holds four pints and a one-gallon growler holds eight pints. If you’re car camping and bulk isn’t an issue, go with a full gallon. Otherwise, choose what you think you’ll consume on your journey since you’ll need to consider the bulk and weight inside your pack.
The Best Beer Growlers for Camping
1. Growler With a Long History: Stanley 64 oz. Easy-Pour Growler
Acclaimed polar explorer Eric Larsen has set up camp in the most extreme environments, but when he’s casually camping with beer, he reaches for a Stanley growler.
“I’m definitely a Stanley man for sure,” says Larsen. “It’s hard to argue with their over 100-year history and lifetime warranty.”
In 1913, engineer and physicist William Stanley Jr. invented and patented the world’s first all-steel vacuum-insulated bottle. The company now manufactures the half-gallon Stanley Easy-Pour Growler. It claims to keep beverages cold for up to 24 hours and iced up to four days. The cap swings from the jug’s opening via a hinge, and a clasp visually confirms its closure. It also has a big handle that makes the growler easy to pour, even one-handed.
The Stanley growler comes in four color options but “that Stanley Green is a timeless color,” says Larsen.
You can also purchase the growler with a set of four cups.
Best Value: Coleman 64 oz. Stainless Steel Insulated Growler
For over 120 years, the Coleman brand has been a household name, known for making affordable camping gear—including their half-gallon Stainless Steel Insulated Growler. It offers double wall vacuum-insulated construction.
This model claims to keep beverages cold for up to 76 hours.
Best Insulated Bundle: Hydro Flask 64 oz. Insulated Beer Growler Brew Bundle
“I use a Hydro Flask growler when I’m bringing beer on a ride or camping trip,” says Rob Annis, an award-winning outdoor travel writer. “Super simple design, the beer stays super cold for about a day and the lid never leaked on me once.”
Based out of Bend, Oregon, Hydro Flask also uses a double walled, vacuum insulation system that they’ve dubbed TempShield, which is said to keep brews cold for a full day without condensation. Hydro Flask also offers bottles of various sizes—from 12 to 40 ounces—and their growler comes in a half-gallon option.
Along with the Hydro Flask, you can also check out the Brew Bundle.
Best Expandable Growler: DrinkTanks Craft Growler (64 and 128 oz.) / Travel Keg
Bend, Oregon-based DrinkTanks takes camping beer growlers to another level with their half-gallon Craft Growler, which also features double wall vacuum insulation to keep beer cold. However, utilizing a cork-insulated cap, the company claims drinks will stay cold for 45 hours or more. If unopened, carbonation is said to be retained for up to 30 days. The ergonomic handle makes it easy to pour brews.
DrinkTanks makes dispensing beer even easier with their optional Keg Cap kit, a modified cap with a dispensing line and a thumb-trigger faucet at the end, that utilizes a CO2 cartridge (also included). This transforms the beer growler into a mobile party travel keg. The Keg Cap kit is also compatible with DrinkTank’s full-gallon Craft Growler, for twice the fun.
Best in Class: GrowlerWorks uKeg Go
Along with keeping brews cold for eight hours, GrowlerWorks’ uKeg Go, which comes in both half- and full-gallon options, dispenses beer from a tap. Both sizes utilize a CO2 cartridge to maintain optimal bubbles depending on your beer style. There are even low and high carbonation settings.
For convenience and peace of mind, the tap has three positions: locked, unlocked and pour. Both half- and full-gallon sizes are available in bundles that include two uKegs, plus an insulated tote to carry them in.
Best Growler Companion: Yeti Ramblers with MagSlider Lids
Ask around and you’ll inevitably run into people who swear by YETI—some have even gone as far as to call YETI “the Ferrari” of coolers. They also offer double wall, vacuum-insulated bottles and jugs in varied sizes, but the fine print with their containers is that they’re not suitable for carbonated drinks, and some report that the building pressure within the bottle or jug may make the cap difficult to remove.
However, Yeti’s insulated Rambler mugs and tumblers are perfect growler companions because of their patented MagSlider lid technology, which uses magnets to keep the sip hole sealed, so you don’t have to worry about leakage when you carry a Yeti Rambler pint or mug in a backpack.