A new law beginning today expands the availability of containers of beer known as growlers. Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division spokesperson Robert Bailey says the growlers are jug-like containers that range in size from 32 to 72 ounces — and are already sold at craft breweries and brew pubs.
“The new part is that now convenience stores and any licensee that has a carry-out beer license can also now pour fresh growlers,” Bailey explains. He says the growlers are a way for people to have a chance to try craft brews. “They’re to take the product home in smaller samples. From a craft brewer, that beer does not stay fresh for very long. So, you do need to consume it within 48 hours,” Bailey says, “that is what a lot of people do, they just take that craft brew experience home and share it with their friends.”
There are some rules for selling and buying the growlers. He says it has to be filled when it is ordered, the growler has to be sealed. “So that when I take it back to my car I don’t get caught with an open container violation. And the person that sells it to me had to be 18 years of age,” Bailey says.
You may be able to bring in your own growler to have it filled, or buy one at the site. “It depends on the retailer. Some I think will take your growler that you bring in, clean it or just fill another one and give it to you. So, there’s going to be a lot of variations on that business model,” Bailey says.
He says IABD has some guidelines for those who are considering selling growlers. Bailey says they are in the process of creating administrative rules for selling growlers. But they do have information on their website as he says there are not only alcohol rules, but there are also food inspection rules. “It is considered a food-serving situation, so anyone interested in serving growlers also needs to check with the Department of Inspections and Appeals to make sure they meet those sanitation requirements,” Bailey says.
There is one retailer in Ankeny selling growlers under the new rules, and Bailey believes that will change. “We expect a lot of interest, a couple of large retailers are already ramping up and preparing to put in systems in their operations,” Bailey says. “The people that we really want to make they reach out to use are the smaller businesses that think this might be an interesting part of their business model.”
Bailey says it is a big investment to begin selling the growlers, so it is important that businesses understand that before moving ahead. For more information on growlers and other alcohol policies, regulations and licensing requirements, go to: www.iowaabd.com.