|The Drink Tanks on display.
I was ordering an IPA at Juniper Brewing Company’s openingwhen a guy walked up next to me with a growler I recognized from a kickstarter campaign last year.
“What’s your take on those?” I asked, nodding at what looked like a vacuum-insulated growler with a handle and double-clamp flip top. “They look awesome, but I’ve heard a couple of people are speculative.”
“I think they’re perfect,” the guy replied. “But, I’m a little biased—I work for them.”
The guy ended up being Dan Hill, vice president of sales for Bend-based growler company Drink Tanks.
|Dan Hill, explaining how the Drink Tank works at their
assembly facility in Bend
A Drink Tank growler, besides holding beer at temperature for 24 hours, is unique in design because of one beautiful feature—a keg top. Where many flip top growlers have one flipped side, a Drink Tank top has two flipped sides that lock in when both engaged. When disengaged, the top can pop completely off, allowing the user to put on another top. This second top, or Keg Cap, has an input valve for CO2, a release valve and a tube capped with a spout. All of these pieces together make personal, 64-ounce kegs.
Nick Hill, Dan’s brother, started building what he calls “the Perfect Growler” in 2011 using his vacuum-insulated technology from the now defunct Pistol Creek Bottle Co. Nick and Dan’s late father, Dr. Tim Hill, suggested vacuum insulation would work perfectly with the rapidly-growing growler trend. After years of design tweaks, the basic concept for the growler came around and the kickstarter was launched.
“It totally exceeded expectations,” Dan said. “We got backers from all around the world.”
Drink Tanks ended the kickstarter after a month when the total dollar amount reached $236,772—$200,000-plus over their initial goal of $30,000.
The final take-home allowed Drink Tanks to afford a couple pieces of machinery, including a powder-coater and set of laser-etchers. With the additions, Drink Tanks can engrave custom designs and offers the growler in seven different colors, giving great variety for retailers and businesses, as well as ambitious homebrewers (Dan said the seven colors are stock, but Drink Tanks can customize any pantone).
The kickstarter funds also helped the company focus on an important goal: assembling the growlers in-house. On any given day, workers dart around the facility, powder coating growlers, screwing on handles and assembling the keg tops.
The growler’s handle is sturdy; through a few shake tests, the growler collar did not slip or shift, making it an perfect addition to typical stainless steel growlers that are void of easy holding and pouring. To test the seal, I loaded my Drink Tank with GoodLife’s Comatose Imperial IPA (coincidentally right across the plaza from Drink Tanks on Century Drive in Bend) and let it sit at garage temperature for a week. Sure enough, the top came off with a forceful pop and all carbonation had been retained.
In order for the keg top to work, the user has to pour out at least 16-ounces of beer to allow space for the CO2. So, after that first beer, I snapped the keg top on, screwed the provided CO2 canister into the CO2 charging head, and gave a short burst. Given it was my first time charging the Drink Tank, I blasted a bit too much into the growler, triggering the release valve. No harm done.
|Etching machine hard at work on a custom design.
The first beer came out 90-percent foam, just like a real keg. After that first beer poured, the second beer came out with a beautiful head and lightly carbonated.
I had to recharge the growler after about a beer and a half, this time blasting a tiny bit of CO2. The second blast poured one more glass, leading me to believe that one short blast will result in one pour. The other strategy I tried involved short blasts of CO2 as I was pouring, which worked quite well but didn’t help with the pour since I couldn’t tilt the glass at an angle.
One test I want to run is pouring a beer, fixing the keg tap, and purging the growler of oxygen with CO2. If it works, we could have a way to preserve beer for more than a day after it’s been opened and resisting the urge to finish the whole thing in one sitting.
Until then, this is my impression so far: “The Perfect Growler” is not far off, if not spot on. Here is what I believe a growler should do:
1)Keep beer cold.
2) Keep beer carbonated.
3) Dispense beer easily.
Bonus:Turn heads in the process.
After my trial run, my Drink Tank does all of that and then some. Although I was skeptical (I mean, it had to be too good to be true, right?), I am not anymore. I’ll be taking this to homebrewer meetings, hiking or biking trips, and family gatherings. It’s the premier way to dispense that draft craft beer we love so much without investing in a kegerator.
But, perfection isn’t cheap—a Drink Tank growler will run you $69. Want the keg tap? It’s another $45. Powder coated? Tack on $15 to your order. And that custom design work you put together for your homebrewery? $35. Some quick math reveals the whole get-up to be $164.00 without shipping (you can order and pick up locally for no cost). For the growler and keg tap with nothing added on, it’ll run you $114.
So, here’s what I think: If you’re bringing a growler to dinner or party, you’re probably fine with a glass or stainless growler. If you’re going camping or hiking with some buddies, a Hydroflask growler will do. But if you want to get your beloved craft beer and have a beer with dinner without buying a kegerator, I think the Drink Tank will be your best option. The Hill brothers clearly made this growler with beer-lovers in mind who don’t want to take down 64-ounces of their favorite big beer in one night for a nice price. If you love your craft beer, you’ll want a Drink Tank.
Where to find a Drink Tank
1405 SW Commerce Ave., Ste. 160
Bend, OR 97702
*Dan said they are getting more orders from breweries and tap houses as the days go by, so keep an eye out at your local spot*
How the Drink Tank Works
|What you get when you buy the keg kit:
Two CO2 cartridges, CO2 Charger, Keg Top, and mesh bag to carry it.