Every now and then the gear-review process goes awry. In the case of reviewing an insulated growler, it’s tempting to think “awry” would mean the review process got you a bit too tipsy. That’s not what happened while reviewing the Hydroflask growler during four camp outs. Instead, between starting my evaluation and writing this review, Hydroflask released a new model for summer 2016. Not a whole lot I could do about that one.
Having seen the new growler at OR-Summer Market 2016, I can say that several of my comments below are now moot. For example, the 2016 model has a small handle for better pouring, and the top seems to improve CO2 retention. But I’ll proceed with this Hydroflask growler review in earnest, knowing that you may still find some of these 2015 models on store shelves.
Like many such canisters, the insulated Hydroflask growler is designed to keep 64 ounces of beer fresh and frosty for an extended period. I’m most familiar with Hydroflask‘s insulation of warm foods and liquids (check my reviews here), so testing a cold-retaining product was novel. On the whole, the insulated Hydroflask growler did a good job keeping beer cold. In my tests, the temperature increased 5.3 degrees Fahrenheit over a 24-hour period. Not bad.
I also tested the Hydroflask growler to see whether a cold outside temperature could be used to decrease the temperature of the beer inside. You know, in case you were in an environment that was hot during the day and cold at night. Interestingly, the beer’s temperature dropped just 5.4 degrees overnight, indicating that the double-walled stainless-steel container insulates consistently regardless of the elements.
As good as that sounds, those numbers didn’t fare very well in my head-to-head comparisons with growlers from Stanley and DrinkTanks. Look for that comparison article soon.
Aside from insulation performance, the biggest challenges with the 2015 Hydroflask growler were its form factor and girth. First, the form.
The 2015 growler model looks a lot like the standard wide-mouth containers for which Hydroflask is known, but bigger. The wide-mouth form with no handle is OK if you’re going to drink directly from the growler. But let’s face it: unless you’re a lush, that’s probably not happening. Because there’s no handle it’s difficult to pour, as it takes two hands to keep the growler steady and a third hand (e.g. a second person) to hold the pint. I suppose that promotes teamwork, but it seems odd. Likewise, the wide-mouth form factor means you lose time screwing and unscrewing the cap, which makes you lose more carbonation and contributes to the beer going flat.
The sweat-free exterior is nice, as is the variety of color options, but those don’t make up for the shortcomings of the 2015 Hydroflask growler where it really matters. Fortunately the handle and wide-mouth issues are remedied in the 2016 model, which is now finding its way into stores. With any luck the insulation aspects have been improved as well.
Hydroflask Growler (Insulated, 64oz, 2015)
- Nice sweat-free matte finish
- Quite durable and can handle a drop
- Handle-free form factor makes it easy to pack
- Lack of a handle makes it hard to pour
- Doesn't insulate as well as other growlers I've tested
- Wide mouth with screw top makes beer go flat faster