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At first glance, crowlers—AKA canned growlers—look like King Kong–sized beers because at 32 ounces, they dwarf a more typical 12-ounce can. Some breweries are substituting them for growlers because they have a few major benefits: they’re easy to stow in a suitcase; they can go to places where glass bottles are not permitted like the beach or pool; and they can keep beer fresher, longer. They’re fairly new to the beer scene, but local breweries and beer shops are catching on to the trend.
“I first saw crowlers from Oskar Blues in 2014,” says Bill DeBaun, editor of DCBeer. “Since then, I’ve seen other breweries pick them up, but not at the rate I’d expect. But I think more will going forward.”
One of the biggest obstacles to crowlers is the canning machine’s sticker price, says Afsheen Tafakor, the owner of two beer stores in Maryland and Virginia. His shop in Falls Church, Dominion Wine and Spirits, recently made the switch to crowlers. The investment in equipment cost him about $10,000. “It was worth it,” Tafakor says. “We’ve been selling crowlers nonstop, and it has helped to increase our draft sales even more. People are opting for cans because the beer can last for upwards of a month.”
A handful of other regional breweries and bottle shops also crank out these mega-cans.
Aslin Beer Co.
257 Sunset Park Dr. Herndon; (703) 787-5766; aslinbeer.com
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Aslin started offering crowler pours in March. Prices range from $12 to $14 per can. Just be sure to check their Facebook or Twitter pages before you go—popular beers, like their Gose and Hoppy Saison, can sell out on weekends.
3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE; (202) 621-8890; dcbrau.com
At DC Brau you can get almost any beer on tap in a to-go crowler. For 32 ounce pours, it’s either $6 for a regular draft or $9 for a premium draft, plus an additional dollar for the crowler.
Downtown Crown Wine and Beer
303 Copley Pl., Gaithersburg; (301) 330-7010; downtowncrownwine.com
This beer shop in Montgomery County offers a half-dozen beers on tap, which are available for crowler pours. Find beers like Dogfish, RaR, and Jailbreak on tap here. Prices vary by selection, and it’s an additional dollar to fill up a 32-ounce crowler.
Dominion Wine and Beer
107 Rowell Ct., Falls Church; (703) 533-3030; dominionwineandbeer.com
In Northern Virginia, head to Dominion Wine and Beer for quick and easy crowler pours. The machine takes less than a minute to can and seal one of their dozen or so draft beers. Before you go, check their website for the latest beer offerings.
Click here for more stories from the 2016 Beer Issue.