We've long ago learned never to take anything in politics for granted, but after this weekend, it appears that legislation to allow the almost-universal filling of growlers by any Baltimore City venue licensed for on-premises consumption, save for non-profit venues and clubs such as the American Legion and the city's municipal golf courses (and how far do the thought processes that mandate such a specific exemption extend?), to fill and refill growlers with draft beer for off-site transport and consumption.
Baltimore City Liquor Board chairman Stephan Fogleman reported that the Senate approved the Baltimore City growler bill 46-0 and the Senate passed it 133-1 in the final vote late on Friday. If/when signed by Governor Martin O'Malley, the law would become effective July 1st.
A similar bill for Howard County, which includes containers for wine, has passed the House of Delegates and is awaiting Senate action.
The bill originally restricted growlers to restaurant licensees, but it was then
changed to include any liquor license holder, with the exception of
clubs. Establishments that already sell package goods, such as a six-pack to go, can apply for a $50 annual license to sell growlers. Businesses without carryout licenses will also be able to sell growlers but will have to pay $500 for a license. Sen. William C. Ferguson IV, a Democrat who represents Baltimore's waterfront and is the measure's sponsor, told the Baltimore Sun that the distinction was created because some establishments
felt that refillable containers are an extension of presealed items to
go, such as bottles of wine--and in some instances, such as prefilled growlers stocked by Baltimore Brewing Co./DeGroen's in a cooler back in years past, that's exactly what they amounted to. Ferguson said growlers will have to be able to be sealed, and the bar or restaurant will have to brand the filled growlers with
stickers identifying where they were filled, in addition to other
The additional licensing measures and labeling requirements will mean that it will be unlikely that bars not specifically dedicating themselves to craft beer and its aficionados are unlikely to participate in growler fills. In addition, why fill a growler if a perfectly acceptable six-pack or 22-ounce bottle of the same beer is sitting on the shelf, properly pre-packaged by the brewery? Besides which, $8 (plus tip?) for a 64-ounce growlerful of Budweiser, or $7 for a 72-ounce six-pack?
More at the Baltimore Sun.
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