It’s been a while since the refillable growler was front-of-mind for most craft beverage consumers. Rob Zielonka and Louis Westfall want to change that. They aim to do it with an innovative new device called Growler Power that turns any standard growler into a portable kegerator, keeping oxygen out and carbonation in to ensure that your beer stays fresh and cold. About the size of an overnight bag and weighing just 9 lbs (15 or so with a full growler, Co2 cylinder and ice), its ultra-portable design allows beer, cider, kombucha or even cold brew coffee connoisseurs to bring the tap with them wherever they go, and along with it the environmental credentials of reusable containers and the social appeal of sharing your favorite beverages with friends.
While attending a holiday gathering several years ago Zielonka noticed that the handful of growlers there — hidden in the fridge or sitting on the counter getting warm, some with their caps off — weren’t getting the love from most of the party guests the way they must have from the craft enthusiasts who brought them.
“The stories of those beers were never told,” remembered Zielonka, who went home that night determined to find a better way to showcase growlers and the local breweries they come from. “We lost a lot of good beer that night,” he lamented, “but the idea of how to better respect the growler was born.”
Growler Power’s unique design prolongs the life of a growler by maintaining carbonation and pressure for weeks from the time the growler is opened and attached to the gas line cap and its food grade Co2 cylinder (available online or at most homebrew shops). Ice or ice packs are placed in the bottom of the unit and will typically keep beverages cold for 24 hours. Once your growler is inserted and the top of the unit closed, you pour from the tap and enjoy. If you’re pouring from a gallon-sized growler or festivities last into the next day, you can fit your Growler Power into a standard full-sized refrigerator.
At the core of Growler Power’s mission is championing small businesses, helping reduce the carbon footprint of off-premise consumption, and celebrating the social component of sharing locally made beverages with friends and family. Arguably the most meaningful decision a thoughtful consumer can make is to choose a hyper-local brand and opt for a refillable container. Not only is it best for the business’s bottom line, but it’s less impactful on the environment. The carbon footprint of a refillable growler is just 5 percent of what it takes to recycle all those cans or bottles, and washing it for its next fill even uses less water than recycling does.
The Growler Power experience will retail for $250 but won’t be available for delivery to consumers until spring of 2023. In the meantime, the team is calling all party starters, gadget lovers, craft beverage aficionados and small business enthusiasts to support their recently launched Kickstarter campaign which runs through mid October.
Among the socially and environmentally motivated businesses that have already partnered with Growler Power are Little House Brewing, Thimble Island, Urban Lodge, Elicit Brewery, Myrcene Ale Co., White Lion and Cross Culture Kombucha. The start up’s business is based in Connecticut, and it plans to open a facility in Hartford, Conn., but the goal is to market its innovation to both old and new growler enthusiasts everywhere. Part of its mission and values will be to hire people that have historically had difficulty finding suitable employment, especially those with previous incarcerations and the homeless population.
Craft beer drinkers can see the Growler Power system in action at the 8th Annual Stadium Beer Fest at the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, on September 29, where members of the team will be pouring proudly.