Growlers of all shapes and sizes
I should probably begin this story by explaining that California has very different laws than what I presume must be most other states when it comes to beer growlers. From all the complaining I hear if you walk into a microbrewery in San Antonio, TX with a growler from Portland, OR you are not going to have a problem getting it filled. Reverse the scenario and you have the same result. Apparently, some places will fill plastic jugs if you ask them; not that I have ever seen it done; but from what I read it is not too far from the truth. Now, if you take a growler from a microbrewery in Torrance, CA and try to fill it at another microbrewery anywhere else in the state you will be denied. This was due to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) which basically said that only a container that was printed with the brewery’s own logo and address could be filled with beer. Essentially, it would be the same as putting Coors in a Budweiser bottle; it could not be done.
In February of this year the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA) held an ABC workshop and the head of the ABC, Jacob Appelsmith made a comment about the interpretation of the ABC’s rules. It was interpreted that breweries could fill non-native growlers and people started getting excited. The LA Brewers Guild issued a statement that there were local brewers getting approval for the new labeling; there were rumors that such heavy hitters as Russian River Brewing, was ready to start filling non-native glassware and then The Bruery said they had a new policy on non-native glass. People started getting excited, finally they would not need to own 10 or 15 or more different growlers. Heck, I even started working on a plan to take full advantage of this new item I could market. Then I started talking to local brewers and actually read the laws instead of the interpretation of someone else. And there are the problems . . . as I see them. Continue reading