New growler rules let craft beer lovers finally clean out their closets

Change is coming to how California breweries handle growler fills, and Orange County's The Bruery is one of the first to amend their policy on filling jugs with beer to go. You're no longer required to only fill a growler printed with the brewery's logo, and while The Bruery has relaxed their rules, there are still plenty of caveats.

Until this year, the rules for filling growlers set by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control -- or ABC -- only allowed a container that was printed with the brewery's own logo and address to be filled with beer. This forced craft beer fans into extensive and excessive collections of glass jugs -- one for each of their favorite breweries -- that overflowed closets and garages.

During an ABC workshop for brewers in February, a reinterpretation of the vague laws regarding growlers was provided, and the door was opened for breweries to set their own policies on how growler fills would be handled. There was initial confusion between the brewers and the state, and it took a statement from president of the new Los Angeles Brewers Guild, Jeremy Raub, to clarify the situation. Raub explains that each local brewery may handle the new interpretation differently:

"At a meeting of the LABG on May 15, 2013 several member breweries ... will soon be ready to move forward with filling growlers not native to their own brewery. The guild unanimously agreed that the best course of action is for each brewery to begin these 'non-native' fills at their own pace, dependent on their own label approval status, and on the infrastructure at each member’s individual establishment. In the coming weeks you can expect to see some local brewers begin these 'non-native' growler fills." 

Now, the first Southland brewery has announced their new growler-fill policy, but don't clean out the growler-closet yet. The Bruery's company blog explains how things will work now:

"We will fill 2-liter blank, Palla-style swing top growlers [the made in Italy globe-shaped jugs like The Bruery currently uses], but that have no markings that can be associated with any other brewery. We’ll sell empty, blank growlers for $10, the same price as our own The Bruery branded growlers. You can make our growler, or any other Palla-style growler into a blank growler that we’ll accept by removing the screen printing from the growler. The pricing to fill a blank growler will be the same as the pricing to fill our own branded growler." 

No screw-top jugs, no sizes other than two liters, and no fills in anything but the heavy glass bail-top jugs, so don't go bringing your mason jars or Kickstarter growlers to the Bruery Tasting Room.


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