Crowler 101: What is a Crowler?

What is a Crowler?


Growlers have been a staple offering for breweries for years. Offering a large format take-home option for brewery visitors is both lucrative for brewers and popular amongst customers, but growlers have their issues. They’re susceptible to poor sealing resulting in flat beer when opened, and at 64oz take up quite a bit of space in a refrigerator, not to mention the possibility of dropping said 64 ounces of beer and dealing with a shattered glass mess! Enter, Crowler. This hearty 32oz aluminum can has an airtight spill-proof seal made to keep carbonation in, which in turn keeps light out and keeps your beer fresher for longer! Additionally, they have a smaller fridge-footprint, and let’s be honest, they’re just plain fun!

Are Crowlers New?

The first crowlers can be traced back to Denver, Colorado and a genius partnership between Oskar Blues Brewery and  Ball Corporation as a creative solution to the “we want to take more beer home” customer dilemma. Oskar Blues was the first craft brewery in the country to begin canning their beers back in 2002 resulting in a recyclable vessel that kept UV rays and air out, and they were the first to offer crowlers in 2015. Word spread, equipment needs were shared, and the rest is history. 600+ breweries now offer crowlers!

What’s To Love?

There are four key reasons customers prefer crowlers over other large-format beer options:

Air Tight Seal: The air tight seal means that carbonation can’t seep out of the can! This makes transporting a crowler, or leaving it in your fridge for a while a non-issue! Growlers, regardless of the lid style used, are notorious for not quite fully sealing and allowing carbonation to seep out.

Keeping Light Out: Sunlight is one of beer’s biggest enemies, and glass containers are simply not as opaque as cans. The crowler is made of solid aluminum that reflects UV rays and heat, so you know that your beer is safe and sound inside!

Keeping Things Fresh: No sun sneaking through the container and no carbonation sneaking out means that your craft beer stays fresher for longer! You don’t have to worry one bit about your beer going flat before you’re in the mood to drink it, and that’s a big win. 

Convenience: You still get the fun experience of watching your bartender fill a crowler with your beer of choice, but without the risk of breakage, flat beer, broken glass, or the annoyance of having to wash a growler. Crowlers are filled fresh to order, travel with ease, and you can drink them on your own time. Now that’s convenient large-format craft beer!

Steps Towards Offering Crowlers

Determining whether your current can supplier can provide crowler size cans, reading up on state and local regulations regarding repackaging tap beer in your area, and upgrading your canning equipment to tackle larger cans are your first steps. Reworking label designs for these larger cans comes next. Hopefully you’re working with an amazing label printer by this point. If not, our knowledgeable team at Pack Leader USA can put you in contact with a label supplier that understands equipment and how to properly design labels for optimal performance and efficiency. Check out our blog post specifically about crowler labeling and the best equipment for the job, and our blog guide to all things general beer labeling here.

Alpha Brewing Operations: Pack Leader Auto Labeler

Crowler Label Types

You want your can labels to look amazing every time, and utilizing the appropriate equipment is key in the process. There are two basic ways to label your crowlers in advance so you can grab a can and fill it immediately. Of course you could have blank cans behind the bar and label per order, but potential adhesive issues and the aesthetic problems caused by them, plus the added manpower simply aren’t worth it. You want to put your best branding foot forward at all times, and professionally labeled cans ensure just that!

Pressure Sensitive Labels

The simplest way to label your crowlers is with pressure sensitive labels. These labels can be applied using a semi-automatic labeling machine, so you can load up a batch of cans, get them labeled for the day and have plenty on hand for customers who want to purchase craft beers to go. The benefit of pressure sensitive labels is that they can come in any size, so you can scale up your labels to cover the entire can with ease! In addition, your labeling machine will ensure that all labels are placed on cans smoothly and cleanly. No unprofessional looking adhesive issues here!

Shrink Sleeve Labels

The other method commonly used is shrink sleeve labels, which tend to be more resistant to spills. This type of label can cover the entire surface of the can, including any contours around the top and bottom edges. You can choose shrink sleeve labels in a variety of sizes, and investing in a shrink sleeve applicator machine allows you to easily run batches of crowler labels for your bar as needed.

Wrapping Up

Crowlers are a fun, effective, and lucrative addition to your brewery offerings, and our team is ready to help guide you through the crowler labeling process! We've put together a comprehensive guide to labeling that should help answer all of your more detailed label questions. It was created to help guide you through the label creation and equipment purchasing process, and gives more in depth information than a blog post is capable of. 

Download the guide for free, and remember that our team is passionate about helping you along the way! We look forward to assisting you throughout the journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!

Get the free eBook  The Craft Brewer's Guide to Labeling Equipment