All you need to know about crowlers, one of the most controversial trends in Texas beer

Drinkers walking into many of Dallas-Fort Worth's craft beer-focused bars might notice a new way to take their favorite brews home: the crowler.

That's not a typo. Simply put, a crowler is an aluminum "can growler" made for taking beer to-go. And in Texas, it's been one of the most hotly contested issues facing craft beer in recent years.

The basics

A crowler is a 32-ounce can that is filled with beer from the tap and sealed instantaneously by a machine. The concept was developed by Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery and can manufacturer Ball. The brewery also collaborated with manufacturer All American to develop the machine used to seal the aluminum cans. They cost about $4,000 each, according to the brewery.

Why beer nerds love crowlers

Crowlers renewed the age-old debate about whether beer is best served from aluminum or glass. Drinkers tout the crowler as more easily transportable than glass or ceramic growlers and say it keeps the beer fresher because of less exposure to light and oxygen. And because crowlers are for one-time use, there's less risk of beer contamination than with a growler.

Most bars charge $1 for the can, a lower up-front investment.

Why TABC doesn't

Crowlers first made their way to North Texas in early 2015; Lone Star Taps and Caps in Lewisville was reportedly one of the first bars in the country to offer them. But as quickly as enthusiasm for crowlers sparked, the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission threw a wet blanket on them.

That summer, TABC deemed crowlers illegal for businesses that did not hold a license to brew beer. Canning is a manufacturing process, it said, and is therefore reserved solely for beer manufacturers. While the order didn't fully eliminate crowlers -- brewpubs such as Collective Brewing Project in Fort Worth and Noble Rey Brewing Co. in Dallas could still sell them -- it resulted in a legal battle between the state and one bar owner that lasted more than a year.

In November 2016, a judge ruled against TABC, saying the alcohol code does not distinguish between a crowler and a growler. By TABC's interpretation of the law, the judge said, "The sale of beer in buckets, mayonnaise jars or even tennis ball cans for off-premise consumption is permitted." But not crowlers? Hard sell.

In March, nearly four months after the judge's decision, TABC relented, allowing crowlers back in bars. Cheers!

Where to fill up

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