I like Growlers. Here in Colorado, nearly every brewery offers them. Anything from big ol’ gallon sized, to the standard 64 oz. growler and many breweries have even started offering little 32 oz. growlers. These days, you can track down a huge variety of styles and material. Glass, canteen, genie bottle, metal, medicine bottle, plastic, swing-top and on and on and on…
But, the beauty of the growler isn’t what it looks like or what it’s made from, but rather what’s inside. Growlers make it possible to bring fresh beer home with you that might not normally make it to a bottle or can in your local liquor stores.
Laws vary from state-to-state. Here in Colorado, only breweries with a proper license can fill growlers. In other states, bars and restaurants are allowed to sell growlers. This is a great concept and one that I’d like to see adopted in Colorado. Imagine, being able to walk into The Falling Rock Tap House and leave with a growler full of your favorite beer.
New York is a state that allows a business other than a brewery, to get a license, that will allow them to sell and fill growlers for off-site consumption. Some of these businesses include grocery stores, gas stations, bars and restaurants. It’s brilliant. On our recent trip, we came across a chain of stores across New York State called the Craft Beer Exchange (CBX).
The CBX has teamed up with Sunoco gas stations, to offer a solid selection of craft beer and a rotating selection of taps available for growler fills. I had the opportunity to visit several of these locations and every one of them offered 6-packs, 12-packs, mix-packs, singles, bombers and 750’s of craft brews. Everything from Pale Ales, Ambers and Browns, to Double IPA’s, Russian Imperial Stouts and Barrel-Aged Sours. It was pretty impressive to see hundreds of different beers on the shelves at a gas station.
As for the growler fills, each location has anywhere from 6 to 14 different beers available to choose from. There are plenty of local breweries available, including Saranac, Ithaca Brewing and Lake Placid Brewing, but they also offer options from out-of-state breweries, such as Stone, Founders and Dogfish Head.
The CBX is also attempting to educate consumers by offering information on each beer that’s available for purchase. The ABV, a description of the beer and other details are listed on cards, which are on display near the tap lines. Customers are free to take one after their purchase, in order to gain a greater appreciation of the beer.
In addition to the information cards, I noticed some locations offering free pint glasses and discounted fills during their “Growler Hour” specials throughout the week.
This is a great idea and cheers to New York for making this possible. How great would it be to fill your car and your growler in one-stop? The Craft Beer Exchange has more than 40 locations across New York state and more than a dozen in South Carolina. They run a website that lists all of their locations, up-to-date tap lists and more. The website also keeps readers in tune with local beer fests and happenings in the area.
I can’t say whether or not Colorado will ever adopt a law that would allow for growler fills in locations other than a brewery, but it’s an interesting concept. While there are certainly arguments for both sides, I think it makes for a great opportunity to promote craft beer, convert macro drinkers to craft beer and help spread the word about local micro breweries. What are your thoughts?