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Growlers: does anyone use them in LA?

Interesting NYT article about the growing use of growlers at beer bars and retailers in NYC:


Does anyone know whether this is legal in LA? If so, do any beer places routinely fill them?

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  1. Damn you peri, two minutes faster on the draw than me! Let's see what percolates.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mrgreenbeenz

      I'm surprised no one beat _me_ to it. I half-expected to see a 20 post thread on the topic already . . .

    2. Steelhead Brewery across from UC Irvine sells their beers to go in growlers.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Professor Salt

        There was a post from four years ago that seemed to suggest that it might be illegal in OC, or at least in Orange:


        (fourth paragraph)

        1. re: Peripatetic

          Apparently not. I just got off the phone with Steelhead, and growlers are for sale as usual. They sell a filled growler for $21.75, with no deposit. You own the growler, and refills are $9.70


          1. re: Peripatetic

            Not a chance, at least in OC. They're sold at the Bruery, and you can have their excellent beer put into one for you. I believe they're $10 or $15, but you keep it and can keep on refilling it. If they're doing it, get the Oude Tart. Outstanding. If you're a hophead try the XPA.

            California doesn't have much in the way of stupid nanny-state liquor laws, surprisingly. Not sure about the city of Orange, can't think of anyplace I would want to buy a growler from there except maybe Hollingshead's Deli, which doesn't do that. The Bruery is in Placentia.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              The post was about Hollingshead's Deli. The poster reported that they did fill growlers at one time but purportedly stopped when "legal action was threatened".

              I seem to recall that Father's Office wouldn't let me take unopened bottles off the premises. Of course inferring anything from FO would be a mistake; otherwise one might think LA has strict ketchup laws.

              1. re: Peripatetic

                Do Hollingshead's or Father's Office have off-sale liquor licenses? If they are only licensed to sell liquor to be consumed on premises, then that could be the issue.

                1. re: OCSteve

                  Hollingshead's has a 41 (on-sale beer and wine for an eating place), which means minors can enter and off-sale (growlers) would be prohibited.

                  Father's Office has a 42 (on-sale beer and wine, public premises), which allows off-sale, prohibits minors and does not actually require them to serve food, so their restriction about bottles leaving the premises is right up there with their anti-ketchup sentiment.

                  The Bruery has a 23 (small beer manufacturer) and Steelhead has both a 23 and a 47 (on-sale liquor for an eating place), which allows them to have a full bar. 23 allows you to sell beer for off-sale; 47 allows beer and wine off-sales.

                  There is no countywide liquor license moratorium for OC; Costa Mesa, Fullerton and Stanton have citywide liquor license moratoria.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Thanks to this post by Ubergeek, I discovered the state's License Query System:


                    Drat, Lucky Baldwin's (near me) has a 41 (both locations). 38 Degrees in Alhambra has a 47, though.

                    Thanks Ubergeek!

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek


                      ABC license descriptions are confusing at best.

                      41 - ON SALE BEER & WINE – EATING PLACE - (Restaurant) Authorizes the sale of beer and wine for consumption ON OR OFF the premises where sold. Distilled spirits may not be on the premises (except brandy, rum, or liqueurs for use solely for cooking purposes). Must operate and maintain the licensed premises as a bona fide eating place. Must maintain suitable kitchen facilities, and must make actual and substantial sales of meals for consumption on the premises. Minors are allowed on the premises.

                      42-ON SALE BEER & WINE – PUBLIC PREMISES - (Bar, Tavern) Authorizes the sale of beer and wine for consumption ON OR OFF the premises where sold. No distilled spirits may be on the premises. Minors are not allowed to enter and remain (see Section 25663.5 for exception, musicians). Food service is not required.

                      The first sentences of both are exactly the same.

                      When I had both 20 and 42 licenses I became aware of restaurants selling wine out the door and was told that wording allowed it. I'd be interested in your source. Could this be a local condition affecting the license?

                      1. re: Midlife

                        I doubt it. Certain counties impose moratoria, but I don't think there are any local options in terms of alcohol service.

                        My source is someone responsible for the liquor license at a large venue who had to go for a 42 due to 41 "not being allowed to sell off-premises" (his words, from the ABC rep who told him).

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          Two things:

                          1) I'm not saying the ABC rep didn't tell him that, but I found that ABC reps are not always exactly right.

                          2) The city where I had my wine shop & tasting bar imposed a two-ounce per pour condition on all 3 of us in the city. The ABC told me that was not state law but was applied where the local authorities (city and/or police) got together to ensure against any local concerns. Similarly licensed venues, in neighboring cities did NOT have the same condition. The ABC admitted that could be the case.

          2. Red Car Brewery in Torrance has them. Try the IPA.

            1. While California does license on-premise (consuming at the venue) and off-premise (taking to another location) separately for retail shops......... bars, taverns and restaurants CAN sell bottles to go legally under their single licenses. (see the California ABC site - license type descriptions)

              In some cases local governments can have an influence on those licenses and get the ABC to place conditions on them. That may have been what was going on in Orange.

              1. Actually, I was surprised to see growlers on the Umami Burger menu (Los Feliz location). $22, it says, but not sure what beers are available.

                1. Bootlegger's Brewery in Fullerton! My friend's fiance comes home with at least 2 growlers filled every so often. Maybe $12-$15 a refill. http://www.bootleggersbrewery.com/ind...

                  1. I'm sorry but I don't understand this. What's the appeal? Am I saying money? What's in it for me the consumer? I take this thing around to restaurants, is it cheaper? Am I getting more beer? I can take the beer with me? Totally clueless. What's the advantages?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                      It's not really about consumer saving money, at least, it's not something I think about. Some microbeers are only available in kegs, so the only place for a consumer to get them is at a brewpub. I also find that kegged beers can taste fresher and brighter than their bottled version, so I'd just as soon buy a batch that I know is fresh from the brewery.

                      1. re: Professor Salt

                        The Professor summarizes my (the OP) interest in it. There's also some promotion of the ecological benefits, but I suspect that's mostly collateral.

                      2. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                        It is sometimes cheaper than the equivalent in bottles, because the packaging is cheaper. A growler is a half-gallon of beer, or slightly less than a 6-pack of 12 fl. oz. bottles. It's much smaller than a keg (15.5 gallons), a pony keg (7.75 gallons) or a mini-keg (5 L, about 1 1/3 gallons).

                        In the case of the Bruery, some beers are sold in 750 mL bottles (about 25 fl. oz., or just over a pint and a half liquid measure), some are sold only by the growler (because they're filled from the tap on the bar) and some only by the glass in the brewery.

                      3. I finally understand the Hank Williams song "My bucket's got a hole in it".

                        1. OK, I plowed through the 18 previous replies and no one has mentioned that growlers are legal in California but must be labeled to match the brewery so while I have a Russian River Brewing Company growler, it can only be filled by them with THEIR beer, another brewery can not legally fill it and so on. If you or I want a growler of beer from The Bruery in Placentia (my favorite S. Cal. brewery by far) you must buy one of their growlers.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: sel

                            They attach labels to the growler, though. I've seen them do it. They also seal the growler shut (prevents leakage and problems with the law when you get pulled over for speeding home to drink the great beer before it gets warm).

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              Had three growlers filled at Pacific Plate Brewery in Monrovia in July - that's exactly what they did.

                            2. re: sel

                              sel, did you get the Russian River growler from the brewery, or is there someone here in SoCal who is filling Russian River growlers?

                            3. My experience with growlers in CA (I have purchased hundreds of them over the last 13 years or so) is that you get them from the brewery, not a beer retailer, and they have to be labeled as such. I have Stone growlers, Russian River growlers, AleSmith, Green Flash, Bruery, Ballast Point, and on and on.

                              What's the advantage of getting them? Well, the biggest advantage to me is that breweries often (almost always) have beers on tap that they don't bottle. So, if you want to have, say a Pizza Port Sticky Stout or an Alpine Tuatara in the comfort of your home, the only way you can make that happen is to purchase a growler.

                              1. Wow! Having trouble with a typo edit. Might have it now. Sorry!

                                1. Hate to mention a chain...especially one that has slid in the recent years...but does BJ's still sell growlers?

                                  1. the bonaventure brewery sells their beers in growlers. they have 3 regular beers (blonde, pale & strawberry blonde) and a rotating seasonal beer that they change out. right now i think it's a hophead red.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: duhitsvictoria

                                      Anyone know if Westwood Brewing Co. near UCLA sells growlers to go?

                                    2. I hear Stone Brewing Co. fills growlers at their stores/breweries.

                                      2 Replies
                                        1. re: mc michael

                                          Dammit where did I put my Stone canteen?

                                        2. As far as I know, and as of August 2014, California breweries can now refill growlers with beer even if the growler is from a different brewery, BUT retailers and tap rooms are not permitted to fill growlers at all. Dumb ABC rules.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Midlife

                                            This was a "clarification" from the ABC (commence eye rolling)... and they're so weird about sudden "clarifications" that most breweries are refusing to fill blank growlers.

                                            Because, of course, when the brewery is closed, would-be beer drinkers totally just go home and have a glass of milk instead, right? Bloody ABC.

                                            1. re: Midlife

                                              You have to use duct tape or electrical tape to cover up the name of the different brewery otherwise they cannot fill the growler. It's a silly rule.

                                              1. re: js76wisco

                                                or tape over the name w/ used beer menus, then proceed to draw your own brewery's name on said paper.

                                                it's insanity.