Ale drinkers are going gaga for growlers. Matthew Boucher, from Thirsty, selects some of the best
It’s high time that the wider UK public and the people of Cambridge discovered growlers and beer. Americans and Canadians have been used to them for some time now, but it’s their association with the craft beer movement in the UK which is exciting beer drinkers, young and old.
The growler dispensing system is a clever way of getting beer from larger containers into bottles – for consumption either at source or to take away. The beer tap first dispenses CO2 into the bottle (growler) to force out any unwanted oxygen (as any brewer will tell you, oxygen is the enemy of fresh beer). The beer is then pushed gently through the pipes from the barrel down the sides of the inside of the bottle slowly filling from the bottom up. As the liquid displaces the CO2, the gas is let out by the operator to make way for the beer. The finale is to let out any remaining CO2, so that little or no oxygen is left and all that remains is the beer’s natural fizz. The beer comes through a cooler too so that it comes out at just the right temperature to drink.
The beer is now sealed with the bottle’s swing top, which creates a wonderfully secure barrier to any marauding oxygen. The beer can stay like this for up to 60 days as long as the seal remains unbroken, but we’ve not spoken to anyone who’s managed to wait that long to taste it.
“You may not stop at just one of these”
The bottles are of course reusable, so we recommend repeated and regular use. There are two-litre (roughly two pints) and four-litre versions available. If you are not going to consume them immediately, then store them in your fridge. Vegetables, make way!
The craft beer movement in the UK has exploded in the last few years, but luckily Thirsty can recommend some new brewers that you should be watching for, starting with these beauties:
Redwell: A Norwich-based, alarmingly easy to drink steam lager and West Coast pale ale. Most of their production goes straight to London, so you have to be quick if you fancy some in Cambridge.
Moor: It’s Bristol-based and run by a very fastidious American brewer. These are the equivalent of natural wines ie. made with the basic ingredients; malt, hops and water. They are unfiltered, unfined and not messed about with. Sam likes their PMA (Pale Modern Ale), which is seriously hoppy.
Beavertown: Surely the most beautifully packaged cans since the start of the craft beer revolution. Luckily the beer tastes as exceptionally good as its packaging looks. Owned and run by Logan Plant, son of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame. Neck Oil or Gamma Ray are the favourites.
Von Freude: The craft beer movement is spreading from America and the UK outwards to the rest of the world, and what better nation to embrace its delights than Germany. Von Freude is made by a lady brewer (rare), who makes stunning beer in Hamburg, which is only available at Thirsty for the moment.
Rings: Another German brewery soon to be appearing exclusively in Cambridge at Thirsty. Watch this space…
Heavy Industry: From Wales, but brewed by a Kiwi and superbly so. Won the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Champion Beer of North Wales 2015 for their 77. Other fine beers available too, of course.
Magic Rock: From up north and setting the beer scene alight. Beautifully packaged in cans, try their High Wire range, particularly the Grapefruit. You may not stop at just one.
We have many recommendations and an ever-changing selection of most of the above on draught available by the litre or two-litre growler either to drink in or take away at Thirsty. Pop in to find out more.