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San Diego Breweries Mixed On Growler Refill Policy

The California legislature is considering a bill that will clarify the language about whether you can bring your own growlers to breweries to be filled with beer.

Aired 9/2/13 on KPBS News.

The California legislature is considering a bill that will clarify the language about whether you can bring your own growlers to breweries to be filled with beer.

Wikimedia Commons

A growler of beer.

Right now, beer drinkers can only fill up growlers, which are usually steel or glass jugs, at the breweries that the growlers came from. So, you can only fill a Stone Brewing growler at Stone Brewing.

AB-647, which recently passed the California Senate, would allow you to bring any growler to any brewery and say, "fill 'er up!"

But just because the state government allows these crisscrossing refills doesn't mean breweries have to fill their competitors' growlers.

And breweries' opinions on the matter seem to be mixed.

Sabrina LoPiccolo, a spokeswoman for Stone Brewing, said they haven't decided yet what they'll do if the law passes.

"We'd certainly consider it and look at the language in the bill," she said. "As of right now our policy stands that we will only be filling our own growlers. But it's certainly something we'll look into."

Mike Hess, the founder of Hess Brewing, said he'll be happy to fill other breweries' growlers. But he wants those jugs to have dark glass and "swing tops," meaning cork caps held down by wire, to make sure his craft beer still tastes good when it's poured.

"So if somebody comes in with a growler that's swing top, brown glass, or stainless steel like the ones we use, and they've taken out the time to mark out the other breweries' markings, then we will fill it," he said.

Part of the new law says the growlers need to be labeled by the brewery providing the refill. That's why the old label has to be crossed off.

Hess said he's not sure what to do yet about growlers from other breweries with distinctive shapes, like Stone's "genie-shaped" growlers, or 3 Liter bottles.

"It would be on me and my staff then to find a creative way to hide their markings," he said.

Local breweries Ballast Point and Coronado Brewing did not return calls requesting comment on the growler rule change.

The state Assembly is considering final amendments to the bill.

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