Seems like months ago I was sitting around chatting about ‘things’ with a friend. She says I should write a piece about growlers. I say it’s been done and it’s old news. DMM has a list of all the local places that offer fills and such, what is there to write about? Then I notice thread after thread of rants and various local observations based on the perceived State Laws. In the mean time I got sucked into a swirling vortex at work and I am only now able to sit down and try to sort out, what I believe, may be the heart of the issue.
So today I belly up to the computer, and one Google search later I am at this article:
While I follow the Ohio Beer Blog, due to my busy-ness, I haven’t been keeping up. Clearly! (Now I wonder if the patron at the brewery in this article may have spawned one of those threads on the Beer Geek page…?!)
It seems like the question of the year in the craft beer scene, especially with all the great local breweries popping up, Must i buy your growler to get your beer? The short answer is no. So here is my train of thought based on the question of where different interpretations of the law may be coming from.
[Full Disclaimer here: This is simply my opinion regarding what may be part of the miss-information.]
If you Google ‘growler law ohio’, you will find this:
Summary of House Bill 243
(Effective March 22, 2012)
Growlers For Carryout (D-8 permit) – Allows D-8 permit holders to fill and sell “growlers” of beer for carryout. A “growler” is a reusable glass container whose capacity does not exceed one gallon into which beer is dispensed.
• Products must be registered for sale in Ohio by the Division;
• The growler must be a glass container not to exceed one gallon;
• Containers must be cleaned and sanitized by the retailer immediately before it is filled;
• Containers must be sealed and transported according to Ohio’s open container laws.
This is the entire law…, in its entirety!
Nothing vague, nothing cleverly, obtusely worded.
Now, if you do a Google search for ‘refilling bottles ohio law’, one will find this:
4301:1-1-47 Ban on refilling bottles or selling brands not ordered.
(A) No retail permit holder authorized to sell alcoholic beverages by the glass or container for on-premises consumption, or any agent or employee thereof, shall refill any bottle that formerly contained alcoholic beverages. Manufacturers authorized to sell at retail for on-premises consumption may refill their own bottles in their manufacturing process, in accordance with federal labeling requirements and local health department regulations.
(B) No permit holder, or any agent or employee thereof, shall sell or deliver to any consumer any brand or variety of alcoholic beverage other than that which was ordered or requested, without the consent or approval of the consumer.
(C) If a retail permit holder authorized to sell alcoholic beverages by the glass or container for on-premises consumption, or any agent or employee thereof, shall store or keep any premixed alcoholic beverage in any dispenser, must label the dispenser to show any brand of alcohol used in the premixed alcoholic beverage as well as the percentage of alcohol of each brand used in the premixed alcoholic beverage, except for containers of premixed alcoholic beverages sold by a manufacturer.
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 11/08/2010 and 01/01/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 4301.03
Rule Amplifies: 4301.03 , 4301.68
Prior Effective Dates: 8/8/05
Clearly this is sooooo very much not the correct law. Right?! Considering this law has nothing whatsoever to do with growlers, or filling of such bottles, it makes me question if this could be part of the problem?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s a matter of who searched for what info…? If one simply grazes the verbiage here, they could walk away with the notion that their name has to be on the container. This is a large part of the entire argument. And frankly, one is in fact refilling a bottle.
Maybe it’s a huge stretch and I have no idea what I’m talking about…?
Yet, almost daily, there seems to be confusion over the laws and or restrictions of growler fills.
Sorry, check that. Law. Singular law.
Bottom line, any store can certainly establish their own policies. Such polices should be stated clearly and publicly. This will help avoid any issues of employees miss-communicating the facts and/or store policy (which is another recurring rant on a particular social media platform) Yes, it’s an additional sale for the store. No, it’s not a high profit item. An argument could be made by the retailer regarding sanitation. This is one of two things covered in the law! If you bring your bottle in, the store should, by law, clean it. Yellow Springs Brewery does this with a quick swirl of Star San, and boom, you’re in and out without question.
Personally, I look at as a marketing point. Getting your brand/logo out there is extremely important. I have a small collection of them. If I visit a brewery, I want one (hopefully with beer! although that isn’t always possible).
When I take a growler in to be filled I give it the ol’ sniff test before I even leave the house. I also typically do not take in the cap, to insure that I get a fresh new one. I keep a bottle in my truck, and one in my wife’s car at all times. You know, just in case.
I have seen stores that urge you to take pictures with their bottle out and about. Asking you to post your pictures, not only helps promote their brand, but it is relatively painless.
And let’s be honest, you were gonna do it anyway…, right?
I have jokingly said that at my store, if you are a tourist, you have to buy my bottle. If you are local, it’s not an issue. I say this in jest because what are the odds that someone is traveling with a bottle?
These days, those odds get less and less.
Which is a good thing! Good for the sake of craft beer lovers everywhere.
Here is a link to the DMM list of growler locations: http://mostmetro.com/dmmcalendar2/events/index.php?com=venues&c=228