Northland Craft Beer

A Pain in The Glass

Marissa Saurer - Sunday, April 10, 2016


With Earth Day approaching, as is the case with many folks, we are thinking about our global footprint and how we could do something that ties to our passion for supporting local. Specifically supporting the craft beer industry and what can be done to bring that passion into alignment with one of our other passions, living greener. The options are many, but we’ve decided to focus on one in particular, as we realized while doing some spring cleaning, we have been collecting a lot of GROWLERS. We asked ourselves; why is it that we have so many? Thus a story was born.



While glass growlers are certainly reusable and recyclable vessels, we question the earth-friendliness of breweries that fill only their branded glass. Like many craft beer lovers, we like to frequent a wide and varied array of craft breweries. This has lead to a situation where we have accumulated 70 growlers in our basement and at least a half dozen rattling around in our truck, at times even breaking. Not a very green situation, not to mention incredibly inconvenient. In honor of Earth Day we have taken a stand. We now employ two reusable, personal growlers. We are finding this immediately eliminated the need to keep multiple glass growlers in our vehicles as we no longer need a specific vessel for each brewery. When you think about it, it’s really ridiculous to keep a designated growler for each place you patronize.

There are several reasons for this:


The Law
Most states require legal verbiage and warnings on the growler itself in the interest of public safety. Breweries like to have this information screen printed on every glass growler to ensure compliance. However, there are personal growlers on the market that do have this language, therefore making it a legal and legitimate vessel. Breweries could easily slap a sticker on any growler that included all of the required government warnings and legalities. We own a beautiful ceramic growler from the Portland Growler Company, and one of our favorite brewers did just that, making it a legal container.


The other legal aspect of growler filling is that some states like Minnesota, have laws on the books that take away a breweries ability to sell growlers all together, should they grow to the point that they are producing X-amount of beer.


So what if you don’t care to invest in your own personal growler? The recent change in Minnesota growler laws make it permissible to fill any legal growler. The branded glass growlers are still being filled by a number of breweries and brewpubs around the state. Not to mention the thousands of consumers living near state lines or traveling to neighboring states where growler laws have been more lax for years. In Wisconsin most will fill any growler. In Iowa the laws are pretty loose as well, although breweries can’t fill and sell direct to consumers, they have many options to get a fill at pubs and sometimes even convenience stores.

The Brewers
All legal aspects aside, some brewers/breweries just do not like filling competing breweries growlers. We’ve heard various reasons for this, one of which is the “reputation argument”. They wouldn’t want someone else’s bad beer to be mistaken for theirs. Many breweries fail to realize that the law requires the seal covering the mouth of the growler contains all the business of origin information. By relying on that logo on the glass and not also having the information on the seal, they are technically not in compliance with the laws. After all, besides great tasting fresh beer, the biggest advantage of a growler is the re-usability factor. In Minnesota, where we supposedly have this exciting beer scene where all the breweries see themselves as a ‘community’ instead of competitors, it only makes sense to us, to fill any legal growler.


To be green, and for your own convenience, encourage your local breweries to fill any legal growler.


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