April 18, 2013

Bite My Shiny Metal (gl)Ass | Are We Headed for a Growler Showdown?

In December, I stopped by a Prescott brewery for a visit and noticed that they were selling and filling Hydroflask growlers with the brewery logo. From a distance they look ceramic because of a charcoal powder coating, but they are double walled stainless steel. I asked someone behind the bar about them and let them the know according to the law, growlers had to me made of glass. That law is Title 4 of the Arizona Revised Statutes and it was the law that opened growler fills to retailers and bars. It states plainly:
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 ...
We joked about how stupid the law was. I even told him that liquor agents were specifically asked about stainless steel and ceramics at a distributor's Q&A and the agents held firm to the letter of the law. He shrugged and that was the end of it. I'm hoping that I did not come across as a smug flatlander, but I have to admit that I marveled at the seemingly under-the-radar nature of rural Arizona. 

I've known one other Arizona brewery to fill stainless containers in the North Country. I suspect others are filling for a few customers. I know that every brewery has an interest in allowing their use. It seems silly that the law precludes us from using the vessel of choice for brewers across the world. They may have used glass lined tanks in Latrobe or the old A-1 Brewery, but these days stainless fermentation tanks are industry standard. The material of the vessel can't be a health and safety issue. I defy anyone to tell me how ceramic is materially different than glass in terms of packaging and why the state has an interest in specifying one over the other.

One only need look at the success of the can in brewing and look at the glass strewn highways and parks of the state to realize that the stainless steel growler is going to be a  necessary part of outdoor living in Arizona. I guarantee that you will not see shards of steel from a broken hydroflask on the banks of Woods Canyon Lake. No one is going to abandon the metal husk of a growler on a picnic table.

Yesterday things got interesting. I saw a post on Instragram. A valley brewery is selling the shiny metal versions of the hydroflask. I was told that people are getting them filled. There is absolutely no way that the practice will go unnoticed given the brewery's size and the scope of their social media outreach.

So what is going on here? Has there been an enforcement agreement? Is this a test case? An act of civil disoBEERdience? A miscommunication?

I'm unable to get answers from my usual channels. I am headed to the brewery to find out.

Advice: Buy one. Get it filled. This growler will last you a lifetime. You will save about $8 in shipping. You will hand it down to your children like an heirloom (or lose it like a pair of sunglasses.) Don't expect everyone to honor filling it. If at such time the state mandates that they cannot be filled where you bought it, then fill it with homebrew. At some point the law will be changed to something clear and rational.

Until then, flaunt your pair of steel family jewels.


  1. wish I had such research to conduct on this beautiful day!

  2. That brewery in the Prescott area has been selling those since they opened, and know they are not to spec (I told them at the time!). I hope the rules get changed to allow the metal growlers, but I hope in the meantime this odd game of chicken doesn't come back to bite them on the ass.

  3. So... what were the answers then? You said you set off to find them and then... step 3, PROFIT!

  4. Seems like the Guild could present this to a friendly state lawmaker

  5. I noticed those metal growlers in Tempe the other day. Personally, I'd feel much more comfortable transporting a metal container than a glass one in a bike basket, on light rail, or even in a car. There's just a lot less chance of a broken container that would be messy, dangerous, and, worst of all, a waste of good beer.

  6. Stainless steel is Associate in Nursing alloy which means mixture of iron, chromium, and alternative parts fashioned per the blending proportion of every component. it's additionally called Inox Steel. stainless-steel is incredibly robust similarly as long lasting material. It resists corrosion and marking and encompasses a terribly low maintenance.

  7. Do you think the material of the growler will effect the taste of the beer?

    Love four peaks. Think it's going to be our next full sized keg!