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Filling generic growlers

Discussion in 'US - Pacific' started by ModernTimesJacob, Feb 13, 2013.

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  1. I saw this came up in the Societe tasting room thread, but I figured I'd give it the full treatment.

    The CA ABC held a workshop yesterday for Southern California craft brewers, and the head of the ABC, Jacob Appelsmith, addressed a couple of specific issues in his introduction. One of those was growlers.

    He said breweries (type 23, i.e. Small Beer Manufacturers) can fill any sealable vessel as a growler as long as they can cover up any previous label and convey the mandatory label information (name of brewery, city and state where it was brewed, name of beer, and ABV if the beer is over 5.7%. I believe the surgeon's general warning is a TTB requirement). Breweries must get label approval for however they choose to convey that information, even if it's just a sharpie on a piece of duct tape (they showed us several examples of label approvals that were just handwritten name tags from Office Depot). He also said you could theoretically have a common, blank growler (except for the surgeon's general warning, I imagine), if you could legibly fit all the mandatory information on a screw cap. A growler coozie with the mandatory info would also work if it covered everything.

    There was lots of murmuring and confused looks in the room, and a couple of people asked questions to clarify. He admitted that there had been confusion within the ABC about it, and said local offices should now be on the same page. (Quite a few brewers told me afterward that they were specifically instructed by local ABC officers that they could only fill their own growlers.)

    I talked to Tom McCormick, head of the CA Craft Brewers Association, and he said the ABC issued a reinterpretation of the code about 6 months ago that spelled this out. He said he's going to make an effort to make sure everyone knows about it.

    This is obviously welcome news. As for Modern Times, I'm still planning to offer the standard 64oz. glass growler with our logo for interested parties, but I'm going to look into the screwcap idea and stickers.

  2. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) California Dec 10, 2011

    That very interesting news.

    I'm not sure if you're a member of the SD Brewer's Guild, but once all the office are on the same page this should be a topic to be covered at one of the meetings. It'd be nice if all the breweries locally were on the same page with a uniform option. RE: all stickers, or all coozies so if someone came in with a printed growler to a brewery that only did growler caps there wouldn't be an issue of "No brah, you gotta have a blank growler..."

    Although...with stickers, those lead print labels are going to be rubbed off pretty soon.
    Eriktheipaman likes this.
  3. FINALLY!!!

    That is GREAT News for us here in CA!!!
  4. The next meeting is in 3 weeks, I think. I'll be sure to bring it up, but with 62 breweries, I doubt everyone will agree to do the same thing.
    JustXBeer and MacNCheese like this.
  5. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) California Dec 31, 2008

    what about just a uniform tag to stick on the handle with a zip-tie like Stone does to identify which beer is the growler. That way a blank (with the Surgeon's general warning) growler, or a labeled growler with a blank coozie or sticker (painter's tape?) covering the logo would work without trying to fit everything on a cap.
    dasmusik likes this.
  6. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) California Dec 10, 2011

    Very true. And as a note to the consumer, don't be a dick and run into X brewery with your Y growler and demand it get filled. This info is going to take awhile to digest and come up with a game plan. Hell, a brewery may insist they only ever fill their own growler. So figure it'll take at least a month for any kind of response.

    Jacob, thanks very much for being the point-man on this. How many SD breweries were repesented at this meeting? Not by name, just curious as to how many have already heard this from the source.
  7. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) California Dec 31, 2008

    as long as the breweries that are looking for change agree to some approach or at least agree to allow for changes I think it will be good for customers. Once breweries start incorporating changes I am going to buy a SS Societe growler.

    p.s. Thank you Jacob for the updates!
  8. Xul

    Xul Advocate (540) California May 18, 2008

    A couple of follow-up questions to that:
    1) Were most San Diego breweries represented at this workshop? Obviously it's good news that the ABC is clarifying it, but how good it is depends entirely upon how many breweries were there to hear it.
    2) Perhaps this is impossible to answer since everyone's perception will be different, but based on the response the news got and conversations you may have had, how do local breweries feel about the news? Did it seem like breweries will be receptive to taking the necessary steps to fill growlers that they didn't sell? Or is it going to be an uphill battle to convince brewers to get on board?
    jamex and flexabull like this.
  9. Things may be looking up for California.
    afrokaze and flexabull like this.
  10. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) California Dec 10, 2011

    I think a lot of this will be covered at the next SD Brewer's Guild meeting...in 3 weeks. I wouldn't ask Jacob to speak for anyone else at this point.
  11. Yup, that would be fine. There's a great deal of flexibility on this.
    Hard to say because there were breweries from all over the state there, but it was a very large room that was at capacity. So lots of breweries had someone there listening (although one guy straight up fell asleep near the front row about 5 minutes into it, mouth hanging open and everything. Pretty hilarious.) But yes, it'll take awhile for people to develop policies on this, and then get label approval for whatever method they select (can take around 30 days from submittal.) So be understanding, and also don't expect breweries to go to extraordinary lengths to cover up whatever is on your growler, just like you shouldn't expect them to clean your growler for you.
  12. Xul

    Xul Advocate (540) California May 18, 2008

    Fair enough, I certainly wasn't looking for him to call out anyone specific who may or may not be on board with the change, more a general appraisal of how people reacted after digesting the information. It will still take time to filter down to a level where it makes a difference for consumers, but a clear message from the ABC is a great start.
  13. Yeah, correct. There were a lot of other things discussed and over 100 people there, so I have no idea. Also, many of the people there were not decision-makers for the breweries they represented.
  14. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) California Dec 10, 2011

    Cool...so keep your pants on...changes are coming.
  15. I would get many more growler fills if breweries allowed/followed this.

    I don't purchase growlers from breweries in the Bay Area and Sacramento area since I live 2-3 hours away. But if places started filling blanks/other breweries growlers and slapped a sticker on them, I'd take a couple of growlers with me every time I traveled around Northern California.

    I can only imagine what it's like for people in SD... What do you do, set aside a closet to store your growlers?
  16. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (490) California Dec 11, 2010

    I've been saying breweries could do this for a long time. I spoke to SN distributor about this - there's a place in Chico that has been using this system for months. The catch is that each county in the state can interpret the law in their own way and issue their own growler requirements, but a statewide mandate would pretty quickly resolve any disparities.

    It's nice to see confirmation from another source, but this post screams "no shit, Sherlock" to me. There have been numerous places in the state already doing this, or some variation of a tag system. Hopefully other breweries/pubs/etc. pull their heads out and adopt this ASAP.
  17. Very cool. Thanks for pushing this, Jacob!

    Let's hope that breweries respond. With some pressure from customers, I'm sure they will.
  18. I haven't bought a new growler in about 2 years, I will definitely go out of my way to give business to breweries who accomodate this.
    flexabull likes this.
  19. Sierra Nevada??? That's the only brewery in Chico (besides Butte Creek, contract brewery) isn't it?
  20. Butte Creek used to have a brewery in Chico, but that was many years ago. There is a couple in Oroville (Butte Co.) though.
  21. And I'm pretty sure that Butte County used to have a open container law that made growlers illegal. At least that is what I was told at Sierra Nevada years ago when I asked why they didn't have growlers. (they've had growlers there for few years now, but didn't for a long time...)
  22. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (490) California Dec 11, 2010

    Apparently there is a taproom of some sort (I've never been there) aside from SN that fills growlers. The comment was made when the distributor rep was in Bend and discussing their growler-filling gas stations up there.
  23. stupac2

    stupac2 Initiate (0) California Feb 22, 2011

    It's weird, in my e-mails with an ABC employee she seemed to not even be aware that people were doing it the way they were doing it before. Like most people here, a plain reading of the law makes it pretty obvious that this should be fine, but the ABC apparently never thought of making it clear. We can only hope that they're going to continue doing that and that breweries listen.
  24. Breweries will listen if we make noise about it.

    If we could get a couple of the high visibility craft breweries on board ie; Stone, Bruery, Russian River, etc; I'm sure all of them would start doing it. After all, the wrong interpretation of the law kept getting repeated by everybody only because a few big players had it wrong first.
  25. I wonder what place he is talking about? Only a couple of places come to mind that I'd even call a taproom.
  26. This addresses one issue why I don't often purchase growlers from breweries/brewpubs, but the other consideration to me is the volume. Even for a beer I enjoy very much, 64 ounces/2 liters is almost always too much for me to drink in one sitting.

    I guess my question is, will this perhaps cause more breweries to have more flexible pricing when it comes to growler fills? If I bring in a 1 liter swing top or a 750 ml swing top, will I be able able to get these bottles filled? Or will the solution just be that you can bring in any growler, as long as it is the more traditional 64 oz/2 L size?

    In any case, it's nice to see that we've moved a step forward from the dark ages.
    flexabull likes this.
  27. It'd be nice if we could see some brewers comment on this, at least among those who frequent BA (Stone, Bruery, etc).
  28. SageO

    SageO Savant (420) California Jul 13, 2010

    Yeah, I'm curious as to how breweries in other states handle this. I definitely prefer 1 L fills.
  29. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (490) California Dec 11, 2010

    In Oregon, it varies by location. Some places used to fill anything with a lid - even 2L soda bottles. Others won't fill anything in a size they don't already sell, since it's harder to price odd shapes.
    flexabull likes this.
  30. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) California Dec 10, 2011

    Given that this was breaking news yesterday and the owners/head brewers weren't necessairly there...give it time, may take 3 to 4 weeks....so keep your pants on.
  31. vacax

    vacax Advocate (640) California Jun 3, 2008

    Wet erase markers are the future. U r not e
  32. Oops, too late.
  33. I am also curious, since I live in Chico.
  34. Boneyard sells and fills those 32 oz growlerettes. I've had mason jars filled by McMenamins in the past as well. Maybe someday we'll catch up with other states...
  35. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) California Dec 10, 2011

    The 32oz Grumblers have been popping up in San Diego over the last year as well. A good option.
  36. I do like those. They also fit in a slot in a styrofoam bottle shipper in case you're shipping boxes to people.
  37. dcgunman

    dcgunman Savant (390) California Jul 1, 2009

    Stupid arse Cali laws.
  38. Just for the sake of confirmation, I shared this on RateBeer and Joe was a little skeptical so he called the California ABC and received the following email response:

    kmatlack, mrkrispy, thome50 and 2 others like this.
  39. stupac2

    stupac2 Initiate (0) California Feb 22, 2011

    Who is Joe Tucker?
  40. The owner/founder of RateBeer.
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