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The California Growler Initiative


California GrowlersNo one is to say for sure if these online petitions actually make an impact, but this is a law that would be nice to see changed. In many states, one can get nearly any size or type of growler or container filled with beer. It can be brewery specific or a $4.99 non-marked growler. In California, a weird law requires a brewery to only fill a growler that they sold and with their branding. That means the Russian River Brewing, Alpine Beer Co and FiftyFifty Brewing growlers that you paid $30 each for are only good at those establishments and when you’re not using them, they’re going to be taking up a lot of space sitting on the shelf.

But why? Why make people waste additional money on something they already have? Why waste more glass making someone purchase something they already have eight others of? It’s redundant and a waste of money and resources. Personally, I don’t buy growlers now that I’m in California because most breweries seem to sell expensive, branded growlers that cost $20-30 for the glass itself, not counting the $10-20+ beer you’re filling it with. Some people collect growlers, that’s awesome, but I don’t want a closet full of hundreds of dollars worth of growlers that aren’t being used but I need to keep in case I go back for a growler fills during my travels.

With the help of Governor Jerry Brown, California has been making some headway in frivolous laws pertaining to alcohol like the ban on infusing spirits and burdensome beer tasting room requirements and hopefully a change can be made here.

Currently in the State of California, if you buy a growler container it can only be filled with beer from the brewery that sold that growler. You can’t put Stone beer into a Sierra Nevada growler.

So how about creating a Brewed in California growler that can filled at any of the growing amount of breweries in California? Beer tourists from around the world would love to have Kern River’s Citra or Eagle Rock’s Revolution XPA!

It would be something that tourists from out of state could have as a souvenir and something that people from California could use when they travel to San Diego or Santa Barbara or San Francisco.

It would also be more eco-friendly. One, re-usable container for multiple beers. And I firmly believe it would spur more beer purchases which would help a small niche industry grow and create new jobs.

If you would like to travel from Truckee to Temecula and try great craft beer, then please sign my petition.

Click here to sign the petition.


  1. John Murphy | Monday, July 30, 2012

    Have to ask everyone to email their state assemblyman and senator. This should be something that could easily get bipartisan support.

  2. JEFF | Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Have you actually spoken with anyone who knows the law? I’m not talking about someone from a brewery, but someone from the ABC? The way you talk about the law is totally incorrect. The problem is that the branding is printed on the bottle. If they were to sell blank bottles and apply labels this would totally go away. It’s that fucking simple. Breweries just need to not brand growlers until they’re leaving the building. At that point they only need the brewery name/logo and city/state of origin. The only other necessary info is when going over a specific abv and if the beer is crossing state lines. In that case a hang tag (see stone growlers) is enough for the additional info (beer name, abv and alcohol warning).

  3. Brian Kropf | Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Hi JEFF, thanks for your comment.

    While I haven’t spoken to anyone that knows the law, I have read the law and followed discussions surrounding the law.

    The stance of most breweries is that they don’t want to risk it. The stance of others is that they’re unlcear on the exact details of the law.

    The law states:

    25200. All beer sold in this State shall have a label affixed to the package or container thereof, upon which shall appear the true and correct name and address of the manufacturer of the beer, and also the true and correct name of the bottler of the beer if other than the manufacturer. No manufacturer, importer, or wholesaler of beer shall use a container or carton as a package or container of a beer other than such beer as is manufactured by the manufacturer whose name or brand of beer appears upon the container or carton, or use as a package or container of a beer a container or carton which bears the name of a manufacturer of beer or the brand of any beer other than those of the manufacturer of the beer contained in the container or carton.

    Followed by, “25202. Manufacturers’ names, brand names, print, or markings first placed on returnable beer containers or cartons made of wood or fiber board shall not be obliterated, mutilated, or marked out without the written consent of the manufacturer whose name, brand, or printed markings is to be obliterated, mutilated, or marked out. This section does not apply to wood or fiber board containers or cartons of a beer manufacturer who has discontinued business and production and is no longer a licensed beer manufacturer.”

    The latter of which I understand to confuse breweries with the use of “returnable package”.

    I also don’t doubt that many breweries play dumb because they can sell over priced branded growlers. Still, it would be nice like in Nevada and Washington if you could walk in with any growler, branded or note, and get a fill.

  4. JEFF | Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    “All beer sold in this State shall have a label affixed to the package or container thereof”

    That says it all. They only need to put a label on the blank bottle before it leaves the building and no other company brand/logo/address can be showing on said bottle. It’s really that easy. It’s just not as good of a branding opportunity for the big guys of the craft industry. It also opens the door to employees f’ing up and not properly affixing the label, but it would fix the problem.

  5. Growler Battles: Florida gears up to tackle container laws this spring - Craft Brewing Business | Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    […] and so do the laws governing the use of these big, refillable glass jugs from state to state. In California, a weird law requires a brewery to only fill a growler that it has sold and has its branding on it. […]

  6. Brandon Sawyer | Monday, February 25, 2013

    Do you have the breweries backing you up. Seems like they’d want to change that stupid law. Not sure what the wine laws are in California regarding growlers but Oregon legislature is currently working on allowing restaurants, taverns etc. to fill wine growlers too (wineries already had the privilege) as well as expanding beer growler access. With the size and prestige of California’s wine industry, you should try to get them on board with the growler movement too.

  7. BeerPouch.com | Monday, May 27, 2013


    This is the growler solution. BeerPouch

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