The California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA) has published a primer providing guidance to breweries on the legal requirements and best practices on filling any sealable container. This came about after a February meeting in San Diego between the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and several Southern California breweries got together to discuss state regulations.
The most popular topic of the day was the ABC’s clarification of existing laws about breweries filling blank growlers or growlers from other breweries. This was not a change in policy, but rather that the ABC wants breweries to know that they can fill any sealable container as long as certain labeling requirements are met.
The basics are that you still need label approval from the ABC and you must completely cover up any information that relates to another beer manufacturer. Your label must list the name and location of the manufacturer (city and state), the name of the beer in the container, the net contents of the container, and the alcohol content if the beer is 5.7% ABV or greater. The upside is that when you seek label approval you do not need to fill out a separate form for each new beer or style of beer and you can list multiple beers all on one label once they are approved.
The CCBA provides an example from Russian River Brewing Company of a label that hangs around the neck of a growler that lists multiple beers with check boxes next to each one along with a blank line where they could write in a beer not listed that has been approved by the ABC. There are many more options for labels like a reusable sticker or even a growler coozie, although that may be difficult when a customer comes in with a growler shaped differently than the coozie.
It will be exciting to see what breweries come up with and it is even more exciting for frequent growler fillers. I believe I have at least 25 growlers from 2o different breweries, including breweries that don’t even exist anymore which, until now, just sat in my garage collecting dust. To know that the next time I go on a road trip, I don’t have to bring along five different growlers makes me very happy.
Here is the pdf of the CCBA’s guidelines to filling growlers: Growler Clarification