Lowercase Brewing Offering Beer in Crowlers. Meet the “Mutumbo”

You already know about growlers, and you already know about cans, but have you heard about crowlers? Somewhere between the glass jug and the normal aluminum can, the crowler™ is a single-use, filled-to-order, 32-ounce aluminum can. The vendor (usually a brewery) fills, caps, and labels the crowler at the time of purchase. At least, that’s one way a brewery might use crowlers.

What is in a name?

Can + Growler = Crowler. I think crowlers deserve a cooler name. You know, a nickname. People often refer to a 16-ounce can of beer as a tallboy, so I’m going to refer to these 32-ounce cans as a Mutumbos. Like tallboys, only bigger. Basketball fans remember the now-retired, 7’2” journeyman center, Dikembe Mutumbo, as one of the greatest shot-blockers in basketball history. So, I’m going with Mutumbo, a tallboy only bigger. I doubt it will catch on.

I have a sneaking suspicion you’re going to start seeing a lot of Mutumbos in the near future. In fact, around Seattle you’re going to see them from Lowercase Brewing very soon.

New technology, kind of

A crowler of St. Oskar India Black Lager. Photo courtesy Oskar Blues.
A crowler of St. Oskar’s India Black Lager. Photo courtesy Oskar Blues.

I first heard about crowlers a couple months ago while visiting the taproom at Lowercase Brewing in Seattle. Chris Smith, owner/brewer at Lowercase, was excited about this new beer packaging option and eager to tell me about his plans to use it.

After our conversation, I did some research and learned that crowler is a registered trademark, owned by Ball Metal Beverage Container Corporation. Apparently, Ball developed the 32-ounce can, working with Oskar Blues Brewing, the Colorado brewery that most beer historians credit with starting the craft beer canning revolution when it release Dale’s Pale Ale in cans back in 2002..

“We get off on pushing the limits, doing things differently and the Crowler™ is another step of innovation to take advantage of what the can package has to offer from behind the bar,” said Jeremy Rudolf, the man behind the Crowler integration at Oskar Blues. “More beer options in more cans, we’re working on creating one big glasshole,”

The other piece of technology involved in the crowler process is the sealer (or seamer) produced by All-American, a company that began producing canning equipment and pressure cooking equipment in the 1930s. As I understand it, Oskar Blues and Ball came up with a way to modify, or simply to use, one of All-American’s seamers with the 32-ounce aluminum can. Presumably it was originally intended to work with tin cans.

I also learned that along with Oskar Blues Brewing, a handful of breweries across the nation now offer beer in crowlers, like Cigar City Brewing, Due South Brewing and, soon, Lowercase Brewing. Likely, there are many others and the number of breweries offering crowlers will grow rapidly.

Mutumobo hits the streets

“We have taken delivery of our 32 ounce can seamer and are going to start distributing [crowlers] at farmer’s markets in about two weeks,” Smith told me on July 18. “We will also be canning on demand in the taproom for customers who would like to have their beer in aluminum instead of a traditional glass growler.”

So what sets the crowler apart from a traditional 64-ounce growler or 32-ounce grunt? The seal is much more airtight than a screw-on or flip-top growler lid and the aluminum can eliminates exposure to UV rays. It stands to reason that a crowler would last longer in your fridge than a growler.

Chris Smith explained that when a crowler is filled at Lowercase Brewing the oxygen is purged from the vessel with CO2. Although it is not as effective as a counter-pressure filling system, as used in a regular canning or bottling line, it should do a lot to minimize the beer’s exposure to oxygen.

I should point out that this part of the crowler-filling process seems to be up to each brewery. Ball and All-American provide a vessel and a way to seal it.

“We are going to do some shelf-life tests,” says Chris Smith, while talking about the expected lifespan of the beer in one of his crowlers. “We are thinking that one week will be what we are going to lead with out of the gate.”

As far as we know, Lowercase will be the first brewery in Washington to offer crowlers, or Mutumbos. If I’m wrong, I’m sure someone will let me know. The brewery plans to sell their Mutumbos at local farmers markets and have them available, filled fresh, at the brewery’s tasting room in South Park.


  1. Mutombo will NOT catch on, as all SuperSonics fans instinctively cringe when they hear that name.
    You could go with “Haywood” or “Sikma.” I could get behind those names.

Comments are closed.