April 26, 2012

Growlers To The People | Rule Change This Summer

Update: We got a big traffic bump due to Four Peaks, Mouth by Southwest and Reddit. I have more thoughts on the growler law here. If you love Phoenix and good beer, please re-visit us and comment.

The growing number of quality beer bars and retailers will soon be able to sell growlers of beer just like the breweries. Right now, only breweries are able to sell growlers and they are restricted to selling the brands that they brew or contract brew. Bars like Flanny's are not able to sell growlers. Places like Papago Brewing and 1702--beer bars that either brew on premise or by contract--were restricted to selling beer from their own product line. Want a growler of Elsie's from Papago? Sure. Stone Arrogant Bastard? No Dice.

This made little sense to the consumer and probably to many beer bars.

Enter HB 2606, an omnibus bill which amends Title 4 of the Arizona Revised Statutes and has a mix of new definitions and clarifying language. There is this particularly relevant amendment to §4-244 Unlawful acts and the exemptions that allow us to buy and take beer off-premises:
4-244.  32
c) A Bar, Beer And Wine Bar, Liquor Store, Beer And Wine Store Or Domestic Microbrewery Licensee Who Dispenses Beer Only In A Clean Glass Container With A Maximum Capacity That Does Not Exceed One Gallon And Not For Consumption On The Premises As Long As:
(i) The Licensee Or The Licensee's Employee Fills The Container At The Tap At The Time Of Sale.
(ii) The Container Is Sealed With A Plastic Adhesive And Displays A Government Warning Label.
(iii) The Dispensing Of That Beer Is Not Done Through A Drive-Through Or Walk-Up Service Window.
There is a provision for the Department to report to the Governor and the Legislature on July 1, 2015 on the effects of this particular amendment.

The upshot:
  • The inclusion of bars, liquor stores and beer and wine stores means that all taps are legally OK. 
  • There is no self service (I can live with that). 
  • There is a government warning label required, but no branding requirement (looking at you California).
  • No drive through service. That seems restrictive, just for the sake of restrictions or perhaps a kowtow to MADD.
  • Glass?
The glass thing was not as forward thinking. We're on the verge of the era of Stainless Steel growlers. Our environment here is unforgivable when it comes to glass. Parks and outdoor areas ban glass and rightly so.
My message to you is don't mess this up. Don't sneak glass into places where it is banned. There is very little in the way of craft beer litter on the sides of Arizona's Highways. Don't make me go all CSI (fingerprint ENHANCE!) on you if I see a broken growler. 
Broken Growler by http://www.mybeerpix.com
The bill passed the House and Senate last week and is expected to take effect sometime in August. Other provisions include a definition of a guest (houseparty rule), what defines a member of a club, official sample of liquor increased from 1/2oz to 1oz (whee!) and the ability for the AZDLLC Director to require physical barriers on floorplans to ensure safety, limit underage access and control licensed and unlicensed spaces.

We welcome anyone who can help us parse through any of this legal word salad.

Hat tip to RK!


  1. Now all we need are expressed rules for selling homebrew like Minnesota has :) and Brew On Premise laws. And exemptions for educational programs. Um... I'm happy with the progress though! Mmmm.... Whole foods branded growlers...

  2. I don't think that MN law means what you think it means, Andrew:

  3. They should add to the law that if the beer is also sold in packs greater than 12 at the store then you cannot get the beer in a growler.

  4. Dan are you afraid people will be getting growlers of PBR. I'm not sure what the effect of the 12 pack is on this.

  5. Rob I believe he's afraid it might hurt retail sales of alcohol ultimately driving up the cost when the manufacturers and distributors lose revenue and pass the cost to the consumer indirectly.

  6. Did Brewer actually sign this? Last I heard, she was threatening to veto any legislation that was not a budget...

  7. Does this new law mention anything about growler-filling beers over a certain alcohol percentage? For instance, could I get a growler of, say, Parabola so long as the bar is willing to pour it?

  8. Andrew, Gov Brewer's veto bluff never came to pass. The legislative session will close this week and the bill will become law 90 days thereafter.

    I expect some tweeking by the DLLC director.

    Grog Blogger,

    There are no legal restrictions. If the bar wants pour and sell (and if the brewery and distributor do not place embargoes) it will happen.

  9. I'm torn. I'd be pissed if I was at work all day and anticipating a nice cold brew once my shift was over...only to find out that that bar is out of the beer they advertised because they've been selling growlers all day. I personally believe what makes some of these beers so special is that we cannot enjoy them year-round and that we cannot get them in large quantities. We have to savor our small glass and really enjoy what small amount we've gotten. I'm sure most bars will not be selling one-time annual, specialty releases but still, I don't want inventory running out too quickly. I think we should all get a chance to enjoy.

  10. Bryan,

    The specialty slims won't probably be offered for growlers at most places because the bar can make more money over the bar than the growler. This point was driven home by World Class Beverages, Chuck Noll during an ASH meeting.

    I certainly appreciate that you find so much value in the event itself as we here also value what is outside the glass.