In 2014 I was really into craft beer, well I guess I should be honest — I am still really into craft beer. I might just know more now about it than I did five years ago, which means I realize how much more there is to learn! Anyway, in 2014 I was releasing a new beer painting every day, and so 2014 was the “Year of Beer” for us. We entered a giveaway on Twitter for a uKeg pressurized growler by a new company called GrowlerWerks in Portland, OR, and actually won! We were really excited, and I remember telling everybody about it. Well, the uKeg didn’t show up in 2014. In 2015 we contacted GrowlerWerks inquiring about the contest, but apparently the company was struggling with production delays, so it didn’t arrive in 2015. A few months ago I started seeing these things all over the place: the local home-brew shop (Arctic Brewing Supply), Zymurgy Magazine, and at the homebrew club meetings as well. So we decided to ask whatever happened to our uKeg one more time. Well, we received a very nice and apologetic reply from GrowlerWerks, and a few days later, the uKeg, along with a bonus insulated steel pint cup arrived!!! Better late than never.
A uKeg is a fancy insulated stainless steel growler with a cap that houses a CO2 cartridge. It has a pressure gauge, a sight glass, and a mini-tap allowing beer to be poured without the beer oxidizing. I have had a draft system in our house since 2006, and I’ve enjoyed home brewing for quite a bit longer than that. A 5 gallon keg can be a bit much (the 2014 me would be shocked to hear me say that), and I’ve lately been making 1 gallon batches — part of my house yeast and coolship project. I brewed two one-gallon batches this week and now I can use the uKeg to dispense my homebrew. I wanted to test the system so I made a trip to my favorite beer store here in Anchorage, Alaska — La Bodega. It has many draft beers available for sale, and when I asked if I could fill the 128oz uKeg they said, “Of course!”
I had it filled with an exclusive IPA brewed by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. for a restaurant called The Potato, located in McCarthy and also Valdez. The beer is called Hop Potato IPA, brewed with (no, not potatoes) Idaho 7 hops. This is a one batch beer at this time, so you can only get it at The Potato restaurants in Valdez, or McCarthy, but there is also only one keg at La Bodega because the owner is friends with owners of The Potato. I enjoyed this beer greatly two weeks ago at the release party in McCarthy, so naturally I filled the uKeg with this IPA. So my house might be the only place in Anchorage to get a draft pint of Hop Potato from a CO2-charged dispensing growler keg, thanks to my uKeg!
Using the system is pretty easy. I first cleaned and sanitized the uKeg with just an iodine rinse and a second rinse with plain water. Then the fill at the growler bar. Put the cap together with the CO2 cartridge, adjust the pressure and pour away! There is a cute little button to lock the tap closed so it won’t pour out while in transit. The gooseneck on the faucet swivels in order to fit better in a backpack. The people at GrowlerWerks really designed this product well! It holds two growlers, so expect to pay double, but you won’t have to feel obligated to finish the beer in one session, since it will stay fresh in the uKeg.
Cheers to GrowlerWerks for inventing the uKeg and bringing draft beers to the nano scale!