In 2006, a young trendy and self-described class clown named Bryan Papé was taking some ski photos at Washington’s Steven’s Pass when, while jockeying for a better sight line, he fell and cracked his thigh, HARD, on an old-growth pine. It shattered his femur and shattered femurs often throw splinters that can sever the femoral artery…which kills you fast.
Bryan lay there and had a thought. It resonated with me, reading his website, because I have been there at Death’s Door, too, and I had the same thoughts. Let’s all pray that you go through your entire life not knowing what this is all about. Believe me, it’s a club you do not want to join. Here are Bryan’s own words about it, and they moved me in the same way my own thoughts do…
“I sat against a tree not knowing if I would live or die. As I contemplated death, I distinctly remember thinking two things. The first being I needed to marry my then girlfriend (and now wife of nine years) if I survived the accident. The second was if I died today what would people say about me at my funeral. This thought shocked me. People would certainly come as I was a funny guy/class clown (put a VW bug on our high school’s roof) but NOBODY would say I cared about the people around me or in my community. Certainly nobody would say I left a legacy or inspired anyone. This struck me because I had grown up admiring my grandparents and the legacy they were leaving through business and philanthropy. I committed at that tree to start leading a more generous life serving others over myself. I began to noodle on what it would look like to merge business and philanthropy.”
The result was a long career arc that saw Bryan gathering the skills and tools he’d need to realize a Vision…and that vision became a company called Miir, based in Seattle, and those thoughts and visions became a 64 ounce, stainless steel beer/coffee growler that arrived at my door via FedEx and fate.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that, out of the now eight growlers sent to me for review in the past six years, only DrinkTanks, of Bend, made one that actually measured up to its performance claims, was easy to use, and tough enough to survive the many casual whacks and thunks that anything I own is going to endure. It not only did all that still but it works and works perfectly. I declined to review the other six at all because I don’t write negative reviews and I would have had negative things to say. The standard for what makes me sit up and bark is ridiculously high. I have to taste an average of between 35 and 75 wines to find one I can rave about. That’s about the same with beers. I’m a hair more of a push-over for Whiskeys and Vodkas and Gins but still, the average is about one in fifteen or so. I looked at the Miir, there in its shipping container, and thought, “Nah. No way.” It was too pretty to be tough. And I saw its black matte hinge and canted lid and just knew it would break within weeks.
I was wrong…BIG wrong.
Miir’s 64 ounce, stainless steel growler, seen here, is a little tiny beer fortress. I’ve now, deliberately, dropped this thing fifteen feet onto concrete and it has one tiny dent in its rim for my troubles. That flimsy hinge resisted my earnest attempts to wrench it loose with my hand, in a work glove, with an almost dismissive ease. Even filled, working against internal pressure, the lid opens with a dignified little burp and not the throaty belch that those other six rejects offered.
Best of all Miir worked very nearly as well as the DrinkTanks double-bale growler in keeping beer effervescent and the temp rock-steady. The DrinkTanks held beer unrefrigerated, after filling, for a full 24 hours and lost two degrees from fill temp. Miir lost two, also. Through the fourth opening, DrinkTanks kept the beer nearly as bubbly as when it was filled. Miir did exactly the same. And in terms of oxidation, that notable flavor fade that happens when beer meets air, DrinkTanks held it fresh for five days, with only 50% loss of effervescence. Miir held it fresh and bubbly for four days. The beer used to test both was exactly the same: Mac & Jack’s African Amber. The hops presence lasted until empty for both growlers.
That sort of performance is all I want or expect out of a thermal growler and it’s a bit stunning, to me, that so many companies have managed not to do it. But they have. The difference, then? Miir runs about $10 less than DrinkTanks and you have to consider, then, mostly what sort of handle and closure you want. The DrinkTanks has a full handle and Miir has a open-ended blade handle. For a number of reasons, the full handle works better for me but the Miir handle takes up considerably less space and will let you hang the growler from a fencepost, a refrigerator rack, or your car’s bumper.
This is as close to a toss-up in two manufactured consumer products as I’ve come across for a while and I don’t think you’ll go wrong with either one. You may have a bit easier time finding the DrinkTanks than the Miir, at least for the moment, but both companies ship directly and both will imprint their products for your company’s use. DrinkTanks makes thermal containers, growlers and stainless steel cups, while Miir makes backpacks, thermal bottles, camping containers, and…bicycles! Four models show up on their website, now, ranging from The Burke, a uber-serious urban touring-speed bike that features an ingenious carbon-belt drive that replaces heavy, noisy, balky chains, to a male and a female urban commter bike – the Stoneway and the Olive, respectively – and even a kiddie bike that’s going to outlast your child’s kid years and still be around for your great-grandkids.
All of this from an Epiphany, a moment of “What am I doing on this planet?” and a realization that, had Bryan Papé really died that day, he would have done it with basically only a CD collection, some yearbooks, and a butt-print on his sofa to show for it. My own moment like that resulted in bailing on ridiculous stuff like being a chef and owning a catering company and following my heart into wine and beer and spirits and the exploration thereof.
Unlike me, however, Bryan is Making Stuff and the prime cornerstone of Miir, every bit as much as making great stuff that makes life easier, is their charitable giving, to clean water and health charities that agree to provide trackable records and tangible results. And these are not just Seattle Homie projects. Miir funds projects in seven foreign countries and in the United States and is expanding their giving as the company grows.
This growler Works. It works beautifully, does it with style and even a little swagger, is reasonably priced, and even lets you feel good about where you money goes. That girlfriend Bryan mentioned in his quote above is now Rebecca Papé and she plays a huge role in both Miir’s product designs and marketing and in their charitable giving.
When I started The Pour Fool, this is the sort of thing I wanted to write about: Good People Making Good Products. Bryan and Rebecca Papé are living out that idea and it gives me a lot of pleasure not only to find another great growler that will keep your beer alive but to point out when those making such things have their heads screwed on right. Miir Growlers are a GREAT use of your hard-won dollars and your desire to help others, here in a time when we really need it.