The big knock on the half-gallon growler jugs that have become a more common sight around taprooms in the U.S. is that they just aren't very good at keeping beer fresh or carbonated.
Once you open a freshly sealed standard glass growler, you have about two days until you're essentially drinking flattened beer tea. Rubber gaskets, insulated flasks with locking caps and other takes on the growler formula have managed to extend growler beer's life a bit, but it's still a tough serving size to consume if there are any fewer than two of you working on it.
That is what made Portland-based GrowlerWerks' uKeg such a stroke of genius. An insulated growler with a regulator cap, the uKeg distances itself from the rest of the growler market with a CO2 cartridge within the cap itself and a keg-style tap handle for easy pouring. A sight glass lets you know just how much beer you have left, while a gauge just below tells you how much pressure your pint is getting.
It isn't expected to release to the public until spring, but hasn't stopped a whole lot of folks for placing dibs on one. When the uKeg first appeared as a project on Kickstarter, its creators were seeking $99 for a 64-ounce growler and $500,000 in total startup funding. They ended up with nearly $1.6 million and sold out of their first run so quickly that the second — available now for $120, or $140 in a copper-clad edition — won't be available until July.
When it made the rounds at the Portland Holiday Ale Festival earlier this month, the only question from most observers related to how they could get their hands on one. Ordering one now is the equivalent of a Christmas IOU, but this should be well worth the seven-month wait when that Fourth of July picnic saison is still cold and foamy.