(Tempe, AZ) – Four Peaks Brewing Company provided some info on the recent changes in Arizona growler law in Thursday’s newsletter.
It’s been said that every new law takes away a little bit more of your freedom. Except, of course, when it doesn’t.
An example would be the new growler law that was enacted in August as part of a larger omnibus bill.
Growlers are glass jugs that can be filled with beer directly from a beer tap, sealed, and taken off-site to be enjoyed at your leisure. They’re typically a half-gallon but can be larger or smaller. It’s pretty simple: You make a one-time purchase of both the growler and the beer and the growler is yours to keep and refill as you wish.
For years, growlers were available only at breweries and brewpubs, a great option if your favorite brewery didn’t package its beer. But now, thanks in no small part to the Arizona Licensed Beverage Association and your state Legislature, you can go to just about any bar and have your growler filled.
The law is both straight-forward and a little vague, so allow me to walk you through it and make some recommendations.
First, only bars, beer and wine bars, beer and wine stores, liquor stores and microbreweries are allowed to fill growlers. This doesn’t mean they have to, but they can. So find out if your favorite bar or store is participating before you show up with your growler. It may be the case that a bar or store is participating, but not all of its draught selections are available for filling. So don’t get bent out of shape when you can’t take home that growler of super-rare beer.
Second, the law states that these establishments can dispense beer only in a clean glass container not to exceed a gallon in size. This is the vague bit. If read literally, you could take a pickle jar to your favorite establishment and get it filled with beer, as long as it’s clean. Please don’t do that. In my opinion, the typical growler found in just about any brewery or brewpub is ideal. Find one made of brown or amber glass to protect the beer from getting light-struck (skunky), and keep it to a half-gallon. It’s hard for a growler to maintain carbonation if it gets opened and closed too often. So, once you open it, it should be consumed. This way, you can get two growlers and not feel like you have to drink it all, or worse, dump what you couldn’t finish.
Another note about growlers, since they are filled directly from the tap and not a sanitized, counter-pressure filling line, they tend to have a much shorter shelf life. In other words, don’t store them in your fridge. They should last about a week before they begin to go flat, so drink them sooner than later. Also, keep your growler clean by giving it a good hot-water rinse after you finish it. We have refused to fill some growlers because they are just that nasty. We have been known to replace them with clean ones, but be considerate and keep them clean. The beer will taste that much better.
One last thing: Growlers are a convenient and fun way to get beer to go, especially if the beer in question is not available in cans or bottles. But if they are, I’d recommend going with the package over the growler. It ensures a proper, clean fill in nice, individual servings.