The complexity of craft beer has increased so much in the past few years that most of it needs to be enjoyed ice cold and as soon as possible. In order to do this, it requires the drinker to hang around bars and brewpubs or haul a cooler around with them wherever they go. While this is all well and good for most folks, these methods aren’t ideal for nomadic people like those of us who thrive in the outdoors. People like who take to travel in the mountains, go to neighborhood barbecues, and attend music festivals. It is people like this that travel kegs were invented for.
In March, we first published an article on travel kegs. These pressurized vessels are design to keep beer fresh and cold, on the go, so that you don’t need to spend your days tethered to a cooler or bar stool. In the article, we featured three brands: GrowlerWerks, DrinkTanks, and ManCan. Out of the three, GrowlerWerks answered our call and offered up one of their stainless steel, 64 oz. uKegs to test out to see how it fared on an adventure. I gladly volunteered my services and in the month since I have yet to be disappointed.
That being said, it’s only right that I formalized my observations and experiences with the uKeg so that you good people can decide if you needed to add one to your collection of gear. In order to do this, I focused on three major questions:
1. Does the vessel keep the beer cold and fresh?
2. If so, for how long?
3. Does the beer travel well in the vessel?
I was not only able to answer these questions, but other observations came to surface as well. Below are my findings formatted quite like a research scientist might present his or her findings to their peers in an equally professional manner.
What is a uKeg?
The GrowlerWerks uKeg is a 64oz. portable growler which falls into the category of “travel keg” because it has a feature which allows you to force carbonation into the vessel to keep the beer inside fresh for your enjoyment. It’s made from stainless steel and has premium features such as a pressure gauge, volume gauge, and an adjustable carbonation knob.
|Super stylish||Not very rugged|
|Beer volume indicator||Only holds 4-5 beers (128oz. version available)|
|Provides a “fresh from the tap” experience|
In my opinion, there’s two ways to go about consuming beer kept in a uKeg: immediately the same day that is filled, or over the course of a few weeks while keeping it refrigerated.
Overall, the uKeg is a great conversation piece that functions incredibly well and impresses everyone who gets a chance to see and use it. The vessel itself is rugged, but the pressure gauge and liquid volume gauge could get damaged easily if you dropped it our knocked it around enough, so I wouldn’t recommend hanging it off of your pack when you go trouncing around in the woods. Because of its airtight seal and through the CO2 infusion, yes the uKeg will keep the beer fresh, although it is uninsulated so you need to consume the contents within 4-6 hours or keep it refrigerated the entire time. This shouldn’t be much of an issue however, as it only holds 4-5 beers.
A note on refrigeration: I kept the uKeg in my fridge for three weeks – sampling from it every few days – and it was fresh until the last drop. I can honestly tell you it was like getting a beer at your favorite brew pub – but in the comfort of your own home.
Short hikes, Barbeques, Tailgating, Car Camping, At Home
Should you buy one?
You will not find a vessel of this ilk that is as well designed as the uKeg. It’s super fancy yet functional, which makes it one of those pieces I would recommend to a diehard craft beer drinker. It is something you bring to a party filled with a rare ale to impress people with, but not the kind of product I would consider bashing around with. Would I be willing to spend $140 on one? Being that I live in New England – which is in the midst of a craft beer revolution – and a majority of the states around me will fill this vessel – yes, I would buy one. It’s that solid of a product and it preserves its contents that well. But, if you’re a college kid who likes to go cliff jumping while getting wasted on the trail I’d recommend you take a pass.
The GrowlerWerx uKeg is more of a suit and tie kind of thing then a tank top and flip flops version of the travel keg. It isn’t for everyone, but it does its job very well.