In case you haven’t noticed, the sale of beer in “growlers” has exploded in popularity. Naturally, there is a race amongst enterprising tavern operators to get a piece of this profitable niche. For the uninitiated, a growler (ˈgrau̇-lər) is a sealable glass container that can hold less than 1 gallon of liquid — typically beer. Growlers present a unique legal challenge in Kentucky because there is very little statutory or regulatory guidance governing their use. However, that is likely to change as the Kentucky Department Of Alcoholic Beverage Control (or, “ABC”) is on the cusp of enacting a regulation addressing growlers directly: 804 KAR 11:040.
Presently, bar and restaurant operators must obtain two separate licenses before they are able to sell or fill growlers. The first license is the “NQ-4 Retail Malt Beverage Drink License,” which allows the sale of beer by the drink. The second license that must be obtained is the “NQ — Retail Malt Beverage Package License,” which allows the sale of beer by the package. However, this licensing regime will not last much longer as the ABC’s proposed regulation is in close sight of approval. Indeed, the proposed regulation, 804 KAR 11:040, would allow an operator who merely possesses a “NQ — Retail Malt Beverage Package License” to sell or fill growlers. This is a reduction in the number of licenses required to sell and/or fill growlers; and it will surely open the door for a lot of Kentucky businesses.
With that being said, there are some additional requirements imposed by 804 KAR 11:040 which did not necessarily exist before. For example, the regulation will now require a licensee to thoroughly clean a growler prior to filling it — a sensible rule. Likewise, 804 KAR 11:040 will require the licensee to securely reseal the growler before the customer can take it off of the licensed premises. In addition, the proposed regulation will require the licensee to ensure that the growler contains a label showing the beer’s name, the name and address of the licensee and brewer, and the class of beer being stored inside the growler itself, e.g., ale, lager, porter, etc. Notably, these are only a few of the new requirements that will be imposed upon licensees by 804 KAR 11:040.
In sum, the ABC’s proposed regulation will work to provide clarity on the subject of growlers for Kentucky licensees. Moreover, 804 KAR 11:040 is likely to expand the availability of this new species of beverage container throughout the Commonwealth — a result which very few folks will growl over.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: As of the date of this posting, the ABC’s proposed growler regulation has not been made into a final rule. Licensees are encouraged to check on the status of 804 KAR 11:040 before engaging in growler sales.
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