Why I hate CA growler laws

Discussion in 'Pacific' started by Arbitrator, Sep 3, 2012.

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  1. jamex

    jamex Aspirant (244) Feb 13, 2010 California

    I wouldn't mind if the growlers were cheap ($5). But when they push $25 (Societe) per brewery, I got to draw the line, even if their beers are amazing.
  2. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Savant (971) Sep 4, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Coming from Ca to Va I think the common sense growler laws was the biggest plus. Whole Foods has been a steady weekend stop for me.
  3. vurt

    vurt Crusader (744) Apr 11, 2004 Oregon

    It was 1997. There were a lot fewer options for craft beer back then (remember, people actually used to like the beers of Crown City Brewing too). I was visiting some friends in Ridgecrest, and the pint of Mojave Red I had with lunch actually tasted pretty good. Good enough to stop at the Indian Wells Lodge on the way back home hoping to pick up a six pack.

    "We don't bottle our beers," said the hostess. Then she held up a big glass jug and said, "But I can sell you one of these. Do you want it filled with the Red or the Lager?"

    And that was the first growler I ever bought. Hey, gotta start somewhere, right?
    womencantsail and DrAwkward82 like this.
  4. vurt

    vurt Crusader (744) Apr 11, 2004 Oregon

    They used to. I haven't been into one of their places in a good 5 or 6 years. I used to enjoy their Piranha Pale Ale and their oaky Owens IPA, and the brewmaster at BJ's West Covina used to make a terrific rauchbier.
  5. milesmayhem

    milesmayhem Initiate (0) Feb 28, 2005 Oregon

    So glad to be out of CA. Oregon = Any growler, any location, any fill. Aaaaand...I can now take any growler I have purchased anywhere in the country, and go down to my favorite Shell gas station and get it filled with any of the 30 beers on tap. I love Bend.
  6. HopHead84

    HopHead84 Poo-Bah (3,190) Nov 29, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    What beers are on for fill at Shell?
  7. Levitation

    Levitation Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2009 California

    regular, middle, and premium.
  8. flexabull

    flexabull Poo-Bah (2,289) Mar 9, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    Sounds like 30 taps with lots of local Bend brews.

  9. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    "The store will not only fill up the traditional growler, but they sell a smaller version called a "growlette."
    "Those are just awesome for all the girls," said Kelly Wilson, a store employee. "We've got ciders, light beers, and we have all the dark stuff too. That's also a good thing to taste the beers."

    LOL. They got light beer and cider for chicks too.
  10. litheum94

    litheum94 Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2008 California

    It drives me nuts that more breweries don't do what you do. Good work!
  11. Arbitrator

    Arbitrator Initiate (0) Nov 26, 2008 California

    I e-mailed Drakes with the exact text that Ale Industries wrote above. This was their response:

    "Thanks for your email. There's been a difference in opinion amongst brewers whether a brewery can truly (legally) fill another brewery's growler here in CA. A few, like AI, will fill other's growlers but most feel that with the present rules it's not possible. The good news is that CA brewers are considering working to try and change that. I encourage you to look into and support the California Craft Brewer's Assoc. and others are doing on this front. Hopefully, things will be different in the not to distant future and you'll be able to buy a common growler, good to fill at any CA brewery. Thanks again for checking in."

    Better than nothing, I guess.

    I also e-mailed Moylan's (who responded that they'll check with management), Marin, Bear Republic, and Russian River. I'll e-mail Lagunitas in a bit, but it would be disingenuous since I've never been there.
  12. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    Ask Lagunitas if they fill baggies too.
    Etan, pinkgrenade, RobertV916 and 4 others like this.
  13. MarkIntihar

    MarkIntihar Initiate (0) Mar 17, 2010 Michigan

    Only if they're labeled with the brewery's logo.
    rmdownward likes this.
  14. MasterSki

    MasterSki Site Editor (6,389) Dec 25, 2006 Ontario (Canada)
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Indian Well has an Amber Lager aged in Mojave desert-aged Evan Williams barrels and sold exclusively in wax-dipped growlers. Not sure if you can get a a refill at the brewery...
  15. pokgye

    pokgye Initiate (0) Mar 9, 2011 California

    How about at the next big beer gathering (DL Days, Firestone International, T30?, etc), we conduct a trebuchet building contest and use growlers as ammo? Teams can be based on geographic tasting groups: SoCal, NorCal, Chicago, etc. We could get local breweries to sponsor teams. "Next up is the Alpine Team versus the Founders Team."
    ehammond1 and MarkIntihar like this.
  16. caskstrength

    caskstrength Disciple (354) Nov 26, 2008 Minnesota

    why aren't you bringing the growlers back to the brewery the next time you go? Are they not giving you a credit for a returned growler?
    bradfordjohnson likes this.
  17. womencantsail

    womencantsail Poo-Bah (5,884) May 25, 2008 California
    Beer Trader

    You get a pass.

    Chris and Craig do not.
    westcoastbeerlvr likes this.
  18. IceAce

    IceAce Champion (857) Jan 8, 2004 California

    Heh...as I sit here with Owen and Oscar (The West Covina Brewer), they both said thanks...but the rauchbier was actually brewed by Doc in Chandler.
  19. Patrick

    Patrick Initiate (0) Aug 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    I just inquired about this while at Ladyface in Agoura this week. You are purchasing the glass, not paying a deposit. Not sure if this is the case with all brewers.
  20. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    As far as I know it is. I've never seen anyone offer a growler refund.
  21. maltmuncher

    maltmuncher Initiate (0) Aug 22, 2012

    Not being in this area, not sure I follow this post... in short what "growler" laws are causing issues/what problems do you have with them?
  22. milesmayhem

    milesmayhem Initiate (0) Feb 28, 2005 Oregon

    I just visited the Shell station for the first time. Filled up my Silver Moon growler with Lagunitas Oregon Brews Fest Fusion. I took some photos of the 'bar' and it seems like this is a pro group with a clean looking brand that Shell has partnered with. They were 6 deep with customers and they had more 3 liter bottles than any bottle shop I have been in. The 30 tap list includes Oak shire Espresso Stout, FW Wookey Jack, Goodlife , Deschutes, Rogue Chatoe Pumpkin, Cascade Lakes, Stone smoked porter, Double Mnt Vaporizer, Avery White Rascal, Three Creeks, 10 Barrel, Boneyard, 21A, Silver Moon, Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin, Caldera, Laurelwood, New Belgium 1554, Pike, Everybody's Brewing, Terminal Gravity Breakfast Porter
    luwak and DrAwkward82 like this.
  23. SHODriver

    SHODriver Poo-Bah (1,502) Aug 13, 2010 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    ^growlers can only be filled by the brewery that has their label on it. so Russian River couldn't fill a Bear Republic growler and vice versa ad nauseum for any other brewer if they were asked to fill a growler from any other brewery, not just a CA based brewery but any brewery.

    I'll take a growler of V power...

    that's kinda stupid. might as well get yourself another flower pot if your pliny fill is gonna cost 20 bucks whether you brought a growler back or need a new one.
  24. Arbitrator

    Arbitrator Initiate (0) Nov 26, 2008 California

    As SHODriver said, CA breweries tend to interpret the law as saying that they can only fill their own branded growlers. There are some exceptions (Ale Industries).

    That becomes a huge issue when you trade growlers, as I do. I've traded nearly a dozen growlers with my SoCal partner. If we could fill any glass at any brewery, I could fill his Alpine jug at RR / Drake's / Lagunitas / Bear Republic and send it right back. Instead, we incur a $6 to $10 overhead on every trade until one of us drives up or down to meet the other.

    What stupac2 is saying is that you can't return an empty glass to get your deposit back. You do, however, get a break by paying only for the fill (e.g. $14 for a fill of Pliny in your own glass vs. $20 for a brand-new one).

    There's no way to get rid of the redundant growlers I have except to send them out again in trades. Which I will. But there's no question that this is an extremely wasteful and inefficient law.
  25. mrkrispy

    mrkrispy Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2006 California

    Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than myself (which is pretty much everyone) can confirm, but local police departments (or City/County laws) may have amendments to the state laws which have additional restrictions on growler glass and fills. In SD the actual beer and ABV seems like it is supposed to be attached to the growler somehow. I also think growlers are supposed to be sealed after filling somehow (label, zip tie, etc).
  26. flexabull

    flexabull Poo-Bah (2,289) Mar 9, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    Interesting, I can't remember the last time I had a growler fill up here in Northern California that had a "seal" placed on it. Maybe there are some local laws/regs?

    Years ago I asked an employee at Sierra Nevada why they didn't sell growlers, and the answer was that they weren't legal in Butte County (considered an open container). Don't know if that's true, but they finally added growlers to the tap room about 3-4 years ago.
  27. Sebowski

    Sebowski Initiate (122) Jan 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Which means that the "returnable container" part of the law that the breweries are worried about is a non-issue.
    huadog likes this.
  28. kevanb

    kevanb Poo-Bah (1,664) Apr 4, 2011 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    2 Russian River
    1 Eagle Rock
    1 Hill Farmstead
    1 Bruery
    1 Beachwood
    1 Three Floyds
    1 Cigar City

    I guess I am just a novice in the growler game
  29. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    I have 35. Brought them to work and put on a bookshelf. Work is closer to most breweries than my house so it is not inconveniant to pick them up when needed.
  30. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Yes, and a blank growler with a tag on it has been "branded."

    I've read the law, and asked some lawyer folks I know about it (also into beer.) They see no reason for breweries to not use this method.

    Realistically, brewers are making money by selling the glassware too.
  31. tyrsis

    tyrsis Disciple (321) Mar 13, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    I'd say only a few are. The smart ones are selling them for very little profit. Chances are, if you own a growler, you're more likely to patronize that establishment.

    I am in love with Societe's beers right now, but I can't ever see myself buying a $25 growler. Especially when there are breweries around town selling them for less than $10.
    jamex likes this.
  32. Retsinis

    Retsinis Champion (857) Sep 25, 2009 California
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I've scaled back my growler purchases a lot from a year ago, & am even giving away/selling (same I paid or less) growlers I no longer use (due to being too far from the brewery where I can fill it) Will be down to just 6 pretty soon, and 4 of which are for brewery's that don't bottle at all, yet.

    There are not all that many beer laws in CA that I hate on, since in a lot of ways we have it pretty good, but this one is the rub for me. I do hope that this changes someday, and the fact that two bordering states, OR & now AZ don't have the restriction on growlers that we do, I hope that may add some pressure, but time will tell.
    flexabull likes this.
  33. flexabull

    flexabull Poo-Bah (2,289) Mar 9, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    Nevada doesn't have a restriction either. I've gotten fills in Reno quite a few times with CA growlers.

    And you are right, CA has pretty reasonable liquor laws compared to lots of other states, but this one needs to change.
    Retsinis likes this.
  34. Retsinis

    Retsinis Champion (857) Sep 25, 2009 California
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Didn't know about Neveda. Then that's all three bordering states. Just more evidence CA is behind the curve on this one imo.
  35. samiller

    samiller Initiate (125) May 27, 2007 California

    Ale Industries makes a pretty convincing argument here. Seeing as this is a state law - shouldn't this grey area be able to be definitively cleared up by the agency that enforces it? Or I don't know, maybe that would require some court nonsense that nobody wants to deal with.
  36. errantnight

    errantnight Meyvn (1,073) Jul 7, 2005 Iowa
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned that this is precisely what The Bruery did when they opened until they got in their own, branded growlers.
  37. hophead247

    hophead247 Disciple (370) Jan 27, 2008 California
    Beer Trader

    Although I don't go there too often, Buffalo Bills will fill any growler.
  38. SHODriver

    SHODriver Poo-Bah (1,502) Aug 13, 2010 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    as a person into the firearms game I can tell you that asking a government agency if you can do something will likely come back as a 'no' or if it does come back as a yes they will later on change their minds. government agencies are unpredictable and like to change their minds...
  39. Arbitrator

    Arbitrator Initiate (0) Nov 26, 2008 California

    Wow. I heard they charge $10 for their glasses, correct? Hard to pretend profit isn't a motive behind their now-strict interpretation of the law.
    jtmartino likes this.
  40. MLucky

    MLucky Aspirant (286) Jul 31, 2010 California

    I bought a growler from one CA brewery ( who shall remain nameless, in case this might get them in trouble) where they just filled up a big mason jar, but a sticker with the brewery name on it, and scrawled the beer name on the lid.

    Wish more CA breweries were that casual. I've got about five growler bottles in the closet, and I rarely buy 'em anymore because I don't have the space to store 'em.
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