The Growler Crate is designed to carry half-gallon (1,900 ml) bottles of beer. It was not designed to to be carried on a bike. John Coe (RockyChrysler) asked, “Why the hell not?” To which Commute by Bike replied, “Yeah! Why the hell not?”
Two rigorous and independent tests began immediately.
Carrying my undeniably beautiful Growler Crate confidently with both hands, I’ve never walked more than 10 feet without being stopped by someone who wants to admire it more closely, and make some sort of comment in the “Cool! I need one of those. Where’d you get it?” vein.
I always tell them, “It was made by these guys up in Seattle. They’re online at growlercrate.com.” And I hope those guys have sold a ton of crates to my lookie-Lous, because my one and only complaint about the Growler Crate is that all the talking about it has really slowed down my average transit times between the bike rack and the brewery.
The talking about the Growler Crate doesn’t stop once I’m inside either. The bartenders, wait-staff, and almost every customer in the joint wants to ask the same questions, ogle the crate from various angles, touch its satin-smooth finish, and gaze with quite evident envy as I walk out, now eight-point-three pounds heavier, with my twin growlers, a full gallon of pub-fresh beer, sloshing gently in their very own, impeccably finished wooden box in front of me.
Not satisfied to use the Growler Crate as intended, transported by hand or by car, I gleefully modded it within days of its arrival in order to be able to carry it safely and securely on the old Blackburn rack that sits on the back of my even older commute-bike. I am not an especially handy-guy, so I won’t deceive you into thinking I’m some sort of craftsman or anything. But I enjoy making a modification now and then, especially to things made out of wood, and extra-especially when I can re-purpose a castoff bike part or two to complete the job. The wooden Growler Crate and it’s innate lack of bike functionality was an obvious candidate for a few simple mods in order to make it bike-portable and therefore a more useful device in my oft bike-centric world.
Using a couple tie-down straps and a few links of slightly used bike chain I was able to devise a proven-secure system for attaching the Growler Crate to my bike in such a way that it was stable and, more importantly, disinclined to detach itself from the bike without warning.
To date, my simple modifications have performed flawlessly, in both wet (full-bottles) and dry (empty-bottles) modes.
The tolerances on the crate’s two separate interior sections are loose enough that some rattling did occur over bumps and uneven surfaces on my first few jaunts downtown to refill, but after a while I found that inserting a spare coozie between each bottle and one side of the crate worked well to keep this rattling to a minimum.
Similarly, feeding the tie-down through the growlers’ jug-handles gave me an additional sense of security, preventing the growlers from jumping out of the crate (unlikely, I know, but within the realm of possibility, I think) when being transported by bike.
Thus far, over the course of the past month or so, the Growler Crate has performed well, even as an unprofessionally modded bike-portable container. Aside from the extra time it now takes to navigate through the pressing throng of Growler Crate admirers, it’s become a regular and reliable part of my beer-drinking routine.
When the Growler Crates arrived at Campfire Cycling, a co-worker immediately suggested we mount a Racktime Snapit Adapter to the bottom of the crate.
The Snapit system is Racktime’s proprietary system for quickly and easily mounting their rack-top bags and their shopping baskets to most Racktime Racks.
But with a Snapit Adapter, you can make other items compatible with a Racktime Rack — boxes, baskets, etc. — as long as you’re willing to drill some holes through it.
I was toying with getting a new rear rack for my wife’s bike, and having a beer-related reason to proceed was an excellent motivation.
Beer first. Drill later.
I walked into Mother Road Brewing with the crate in hand while Michael Marquess, one of the Brewery’s owners, was in the middle of an interview with a local journalist.
And even Marquess — who should have kept his concentration on the free publicity he was plying from the local press — broke his focus and said, “Wow, a growler crate!”
At home the next day, with less beer to put at risk, I carefully measured and remeasured the hole pattern on the Snapit Adapter and its corresponding position on the Growler Crate.
I did not center the adapter on the bottom of the crate because I did not want the forward part of the crate to interfere with the seat height.
Once I’d drilled the holes, I tapped the Snapit Adapter into place with rubber mallet.
The plastic washers that came with the adapter would have poked up almost a quarter inch from the floor of the Growler Crate, so I bought some big wide washers and countersunk screws to hold the crate on, but keep a low profile.
The forward screws and washers did not make contact with the growler riding in front. But the growler riding in the rear sat right on the screws. If the growler were to crack on one of these screws, I couldn’t bear thinking of a half-gallon of precious beer spilling — and not being able to drink the beer directly from the crate for fear of swallowing glass shards. (I am a responsible drinker.)
So for now I only dare use the forward compartment for carrying a growler. But I have a solution!
Growler koozies, which would not only protect the growler and contents from some of the bike’s vibration, it would do what koozies do, which is keep beverages cold. I have not yet acquired a pair of growler koozies, but apparently they are available in the gift shops of some brewpubs, such as the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver. (I’ve been there.)
The other issue I encountered is that, even with the Snapit Adapter, I still had to secure the growlers from popping out should I hit a bump.
I solved this problem with either a bungee or a cargo net — but these methods kind of nullified the convenience factor of the Snapit system.
If I have to go to the trouble of strapping down the bottles, I might as well be using the John Coe method (above).
I believe the Snapit system is the way to go, but the crate needs to have an equally convenient system for retaining and cushioning the bottles.
Clearly, more research and development is necessary. Much more.
If the guys at Growler Crate are interested in engaging a crack team of cycling growler researchers, they know where to reach us.
The (unaltered) Growler Crate sells retail for $40 US.
John Coe has been an everyday, four-season bike commuter in a four-season town for almost 20 years. He blogs, when he blogs, mostly about bikes and skis and stuff at rockychrysler.blogspot.com.
Ted Johnson is the Editor of Commute by Bike.