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Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Steel Growler Review: Big. Cold. Beer

You take beer seriously. You want it as pure as it was the day it left the brewery — untainted with light and heat. You want the best beer possible, and you want to take your time drinking it. Do you want a 1.8L wide mouth vacuum insulated stainless steel growler?

It’s Friday afternoon, you’ve made it through the long week, and it’s time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo’s weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science and alcohol. This beats five go-cups.

What Is It?

A 1.8L, insulated stainless steel growler — to the uninitiated, that’s basically a giant bottle a beer store fills straight from a tap with your favourite microbrew.

Who’s It For?

People who love beer so much that even a regular old glass growler isn’t good enough.

Design

The dual stainless steel walls prevent heat transfer, and a thick, wide Nalgene-style cap makes for easy pouring.

Using It

You take it to your microbrewery or beer store to have it filled up. Screw on the cap, pay for the beer, then go find the nearest glass.

The Best Part

Sweet, frosty goodness! Unlike other bottles we’ve tested, this thing actually works!

Tragic Flaw

The price. $US50 is steep, when you can typically get a glass growler for a $US5 deposit.

This Is Weird…

It also keeps hot beverages hot, but who puts a hot drink in a growler?

Test Notes

  • With the growler at room temperature, we paid $US12 to fill it up with 1.8L of a black IPA called Wookey Jack, made by Firestone Walker. The beer was 5.3°C at its initial pour. 10 minutes later, it read 6.4°C. Because the bottle was warm inside, we lost a few degrees to reach equilibrium.
  • After six hours in 26°C heat, the beer’s temp had only risen to 8.3°C. Such a small increase over six hours is damned impressive. The carbonation was perfectly intact.
  • After 24 hours sealed in the growler, the temp had risen to 16°C. Certainly couldn’t be called cold. But still, it was pretty tasty for a bottle of beer we first open 24 hours ago.
  • For our second test, we pre-chilled the inside of the bottle by filling it 3/4-full of ice water and sticking it in the freezer for an hour. Then, we refilled it with a $US16 jugful of Schmaltz Brewing Company‘s Mermaid Coney Island Pilsner. The beer went in at 4.7°C.
  • After a little over an hour, the pilsner had only risen to 5°C — on a 31°C day! That should be plenty of time to get from the tap to the destination. Only gaining 0.6 degrees on the way is perfectly acceptable.
  • A couple hours later, and it was holding steady at 6°C degrees. Very nice.
  • The Hydro Flask survived a four foot drop with no problem. Try that with a glass growler.
  • The wide mouth is easy to clean with a standard dish brush.
  • You need a pretty big palm to grip and pour it one-handed.
  • The lid’s leash is stiff enough to not smack into your hand every time you pour. Also, it’s plastic, but it’s BPA-free.
  • Glass-walled vacuum bottles can’t handle carbonated beverages because the pressure will crack the interior wall, but that shouldn’t happen with the stainless steel walls on this one.

Should You Buy It?

If you buy growlers, period, you probably have high standards for beer. And if you care so much about beer, why not treat yourself to the best possible bottle for it? Look, $US50 isn’t cheap, but consider this — you won’t have to commit to a single store’s deposit/return/refill cycle, you get a receptacle that can’t let in light, that’s also beautiful, and durable enough to last you for years and year. Add to that how good it is at insulating your suds, and this is a one very desirable bottle.

The only problem is that it’s so desirable that it’s currently sold out. (We’ve reached out to Hydro Flask and will update with a quote on the next round’s availability.) In the meantime, you can put in an order, and take our tips on how to keep good beer from going bad. [Hydro Flask]

Hydro Flask 64-ounce (1.8L) Wide Mouth Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Growler Specs

• Capacity: 1.8L
• Weight (empty): 765g
• Height (with cap)t: 26.3cm
• Diameter: 12.3cm
• Colors: Graphite, stainless steel
• Sizes: 0.35, 0.53, 0.62, 0.7, 1.2, 1.8 litres
• Price: $US50
• Giz Rank: 4.0 stars