We told you about the recent reinterpretation of the California growler laws that led to some breweries allowing fills of un-branded growlers. Now, Stone Brewing has joined Eagle Rock Brewery and The Bruery in filling blank, flip-top 2L growlers, and the unbranded glass is finally worth a place on your growler shelf! Here is a simple method for removing the screen-printed labels from you under-used jugs so you won’t have to buy any new glass.
There are a few different methods for getting the printing off a growler, some more elbow grease intensive than others, but our favorite just takes an overnight soak and 2 minutes of scrubbing. Read on for the step-by-step method.
What You’ll Need
- A 2L flip-top (or “Pala-style”) growler – We are using a jug that recently made the trip back from Russian River Brewing Co, and – as we have no immediate plans to return – it should be easier to use it as a blank jug that can be filled at an increasing number of LA-area breweries (as of this writing, Eagle Rock Brewery, The Bruery, and Stone’s Pasadena Company Store are confirmed.)
- A bucket large enough to hold the growler – This is a 2-gallon food-safe bucket from our homebrew closet.
- A mild abrasive – I highly recommend the green scrubby pads over the steel wool – they make the job a snap.
- Disposable gloves – You don’t want to be touching the caustic solution with your bare hands.
- Star San – A chemical used by homebrewers to sanitize brewing equipment, Star San is a concentrated acid that makes short work of the printing on the glass. It is available at homebrew suppliers or on Amazon. It’s not the cheapest, but if you’re a home brewer – or you know one – it shouldn’t be too hard to come by.
Step One – Get a Bucket
When Star San is used to sanitize brewing equipment, it is diluted to a strength of about 1oz of acid to 5 gallons of water. We’re going to make a much more concentrated solution. I used 1/2 ounce of Star San to 1 gallon of water. Don’t fear the foam – but don’t let it sit on your exposed skin too long either.
Once you’ve got you bucket of diluted Star San it’s time for Step Two.
Step Two – Put your Growler in the Bucket
Fill the growler with water to keep it from floating in the solution, and make sure the printing on the growler is completely submerged in the acid solution. Then, just let this sit overnight.
Step Three: Elbow Grease
After the prolonged soak in the acid solution, don your gloves, grab your scrubby-pad, and pull the growler from its acid bath. Work over the sink with some water running, and go to town with the abrasive – it won’t take more than a couple of swipes to remove the now softened paint. Give the growler a good rinse (inside and out), and you’re on to Step Four.
Step Four: There Is No Step Four
Yup, you’re done! Go get your newly un-branded growler filled with fresh, local beer!
Like skinning cats, there’s more than one way to un-brand a growler, and the method that The Bruery recommends doesn’t use specialized home brewing supplies – though it does take more work.
You can use acetone – which you can purchase at any drugstore or art supply store – instead of the Star San, but soaking the grower in a bath of acetone is a bit more difficult. We recommend saturating a few paper towels and with the acetone and wrapping the growler in the sodden towels. Let them sit in contact with the printing for 10 minutes before unwrapping. Then carefully get to work on the printing with a combination of a razor blade, steel wool, and more acetone. It’s a bit of a pain, and it makes a big mess, but it’ll work.
Want a blank growler, but don’t want to do ANY work? You can buy un-branded glass from The Bruery’s tasting room, or a variety of online supplies.
This is a great way to get some use out of the glass jugs that might just sit around you’re closet a bit too much. As Jeff Prosser also points out, it is a great way to convert one of the limited edition Stone Brewing 3-liter flip-top bottles (the one’s you’ll occasionally see Arrogant Bastard or their now defunct Vertical Epic beers in) into a generic growler that Stone will fill with any of their year-round brews!