News & Updates

Growlers Fills at Liquor Stores?

Our friends over at Minnesota Beer Activists shared the story earlier, and it’s one that we’ve been following for a week or so. It’s an interesting proposition, but not Here’s the language of H.F. No. 2432.

An exclusive liquor store, with the approval of the commissioner, may be issued an off-sale license by a municipality for off-sale of malt liquor filled at the tap and packaged consistent with the requirement of section 340A.301, subdivision 7, paragraph (b), by the licensee on the licensed premises. The malt liquor must be made available to the licensees in kegs or barrels by a wholesaler or manufacturer and be otherwise not available in Minnesota by can or bottle. All local ordinances and state provisions relating to public health are applicable.

As written, this would allow liquor stores a chance to fill growlers of kegged beer, providing it isn’t already available in Minnesota in a packaged form. So as an example, under the law you could buy a growler of Lucid Camo from your favorite beer store, but Surly Darkness would be a no-go. And with regards to growlers at brewpubs & breweries, this wouldn’t change a thing.

Launching this kind of operation won’t come without its costs, however. Stores will have to adhere to health standards and will need to invest in the proper cleaning systems, growlers and labeling equipment. And then there’s the labor. Don’t expect this in most stores, though the right store could make this pretty awesome.

What do you think? Would you buy a growler at a beer store? Would you be disappointed if the store couldn’t fill a growler of Flat Earth Rode Haring for you? How many beers a year could actually be filled with the language as-is?


  1. David Berg says:

    No worries. The difference is the beer is being repackaged and then leaving the store, and without some code that makes sense to the brewery, there is no way to recall the beer (heaven forbid) . A small difference in reality, but a big difference to the FDA. I’m not saying there is no way around it, just that it needs to be considered. I have no idea how other states do it–either they found a way to satisfy the law, or they didn’t.

  2. Tom says:

    I’ve been in the business of selling beer for 25 years, not sure I have ever seen a recall come to the retail level. This will no doubt help the small MN brewers coming now and future ones expand thier distribution.

  3. ryan says:

    Here’s a few that come to mind, though I’m not totally clear if all of these hit consumers or not – I think the Victory and Bell’s beers did…

    Bell’s Two Hearted (infection batches)
    Boston Beer (glass particles in bottles)
    Victory Helios (overcarbonated, past bottle bursting rate)
    Odell Boubon Barrel Stout (infection)

  4. Champs says:

    @Bill: I’m much too late, but on these points:

    Pour by the glass: my neighborhood store in North Portland, Bridgetown Beerhouse, serves pints and growlers alongside the bottles and cans of beer/mead/cider that they sell. You can drink it onsite or off.

    Liability: not sure what you’re referencing, specifically.

    Blurred line between on/off-sale: if you go to a store, buy beer and have the choice of drinking it on- or off-site, the line does blur between what a bar does and what a liquor store does. But so does buying growlers at brewpubs.

    Liquor stores and bars the same: no, they keep different hours and provide different services.

    1. ryan says:

      City Beer Store in San Francisco has the beer store/on premise mix. You can sit down and have a beer or enjoy a pint as you peruse their selection. I rather liked it. It’s definitely not a “bar” per se and probably doesn’t take away from the local bar traffic, but it was a cool option.

  5. BJ says:

    @ Alvey, what about the brews from Harriet, Lucid, Barley John’s Brew Pub, we could hope Fitger’s would send stuff down if this got approved!! 🙂

  6. ryan says:

    Hey BJ-
    One would guess it’ll only be a matter of time before Harriet & Lucid do some packaging, but for now, they’d count. The biggest issue is that this legislation is so limited right now, that there are probably less than 20 beers in this market that could actually be filled in growlers should this law pass as stated.

    Barley John’s, Fitger’s, Town Hall and all of the other brewpubs aren’t allowed, by law, to send down kegs (or bottles… or growlers…) – they can only serve and sell on site. We’d need a different law changed to accomplish that. Right now, brewpubs aren’t allowed sell kegs to retail directly or to distributors. Unfortunately, that change hasn’t been formally proposed yet this year.

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