Legalization of 64-ounce growlers a boon for growing craft beer market
| 7:00 a.m. August 6, 2015
Arts & Culture
WINTER GARDEN — Just think of it as craft beer — to go.
When laws enacted by the Florida Legislature took effect on July 1, among them was a statute allowing for the filling of 64-ounce containers — commonly known as “growlers” — with craft beer from breweries.
The practice is popular among craft beer aficionados for a variety of reasons. It is a way for individuals to bring back a brew from a brewery they visited while traveling and also convenient for those who want to take a beer home and consume it at a gathering, similar to the way someone would do with a bottle of wine.
The containers are sealed and intended for take-home usage, not to be consumed on-site.
Previously, though, craft brewers could only sell beer for take-home consumption in either a 32- or 128-ounce container. At 64 ounces, growlers are the “middle ground” and regarded by craft-beer enthusiasts as the most popular vessel. Forty-seven other states already had allowed for the filling of growlers, and Florida’s regulation against such was derided by an article in Forbes magazine as “one of the most bizarre alcohol regulations in the nation.”
Those days are now in the past, and Central Florida’s growing offering of craft breweries — including Winter Garden’s own Crooked Can Brewing Company — are happy for the change.
“Being one of the last states legalizing it, it’s kind of a big deal for us,” said Kent Waugh, the head brewer at Crooked Can. “When someone travels, they bring it in and we’re allowed to fill it.
“Most of our clientele is very knowledgeable … it makes them happy because then they do have a collection of 64-ounce growlers at home and they can bring them in,” he said. “They can get one here and go fill it at Cigar City, and vice-versa.”
According to the Brewers Association, there are 111 craft breweries in Florida, ranking it ninth in the nation and more than double the number that were open in 2011 — and more growth is anticipated. Business is booming and Waugh said the elimination of the restriction will be helpful to all of the local breweries — many of which have been dealing with it for much longer than the recently open Crooked Can.
“Where we’re at in just opening; it didn’t really affect us,” Waugh said. “Other breweries have been open for five years, dealing with this silly law. Without it, it just felt like (Florida’s craft beer scene) was missing one element.”
Part of the problem for getting the legislation up-to-date was lobbying efforts by “big beer” — the large companies that produce more commonly known beers such as Budweiser that are trying to combat craft beer’s growth in popularity. With a steadily increasing portion of the marketshare being occupied by craft beer, though, that may be a losing battle.
Historically, growlers are referenced as far back as the late 19th century and are commonly thought of as glass jug containers.
Contemporarily, though, there are many different offerings and models, with many breweries selling their own distinctive models. Currently, Crooked Can offers a classical glass jug and contemporary stainless-steel option in both 64- and 32-ounce sizes — with the 64-ounce stainless-steel growler being a customer favorite so far.
“The stainless-steel model — it’s such a huge seller because of the longevity of the liquid in there with no light getting in or oxygen getting in,” said Josh Sullivan, general manager of the tap room at Crooked Can.
• Growler shelf life is not as long as that of a bottle, can or keg.
• To preserve fresh draught beer flavor, your growler must be filled with care. Ask your retailer how they fill growlers. Fill tubes are better than direct fill, counter pressure filling is even better.
• Filling warm or hot growlers causes foaming. For best results, make sure that your growler is cool or at least room temperature before filling.
• Clear glass growlers (which potentially allows sunlight through) can cause skunking, which can negatively alter the taste of your beer.
• Keep filled growlers cold and dark. Do not leave a filled growler in your car on a hot or very cold day.
• It’s just fact: the beer is never as fresh and carbonated once opened.
• When finished, be sure to rinse your growler well with warm water so it’s clean for the next fill.