One of the main questions we get at Helm’s Brewing is what is our growler policy when it comes to blank or other breweries growlers. There has been a lot of confusion out in the market and everyone seems to have a different answer. Hopefully after this explanation you will be able to walk away with a good comprehension of the growler laws in California.
First off lets explain what a growler is. A growler is a take home container used at breweries that allows consumers to take home fresh beer straight from the tap. Once a growler is purchased it can be returned to the brewery over and over again to get refills at a reasonable price. Growlers come in many styles and sizes ranging from cheap glass to expensive stainless steel. The most common sizes you will see in breweries are 2-liters that hold four pints or 1-liter growlers that hold around two pints. A good rule of thumb for freshness of a growler is that unopened it can last 4-7 days, but once opened it should be consumed within 24-48 hours. The type of growler and type of seal used can affect this one way or another and technology in growlers is expanding to make longer lasting growlers. Remember these are take home containers and cannot be consumed on brewery premises.
It was common practice that breweries would only fill their specific growler while not filling blank or other breweries containers. With the boom of breweries across the country consumers were collecting more growlers and were looking for a solution to having 10-20 growlers in the car. Due to this shift the ABC reinterpreted the existing growler law to allow for better practices of filling growlers. The law states that a container can be filled for off site consumption as long as it has a state approved label that is not easily removable. To get a label approved from the state it must contain the government warning on alcohol, the name and location of the brewery and the name of the beer. This means a brewery can fill a blank growler if they can attach a state approved label such as a growler hang tag or a growler koozie. They cannot fill another breweries growler unless that information is covered up and then their state approved label is attached. Each brewery has their own rules and regulations when it comes to growlers with some filling blanks and others not.
Hopefully this helps clear up on of the biggest questions we get here at the brewery.
Helm’s Brewing Company