Thursday, July 12, 2012

Growlers to-go in the MO

Have you ever been at the bar and needed to go home, but wanted to keep drinking? But then you realize that your fridge is empty and the liquor store is closed? Or, the store is open, but you are simply too lazy to make the side trip and drag yourself out of the car an extra time on the way home? Well now you are in luck (hopefully)!

Assuming no veto is given, the Missouri Senate Committee will pass a House Bill on 7/14 at midnight that says:

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, any restaurant bar without an on-site brewery that serves [forty-five] twenty or more different types of draft beer may sell thirty-two fluid ounces or more of such beer to customers for consumption off the premises of such bar or tavern.  As used in this section, the term "restaurant bar" means any establishment having a restaurant or similar facility on the premises at least fifty percent of the gross income of which is derived from the sale of prepared meals or food consumed on such premises."

In layman's terms, bars that sell food and have 20 or more taps will be able to sell you 32 ounce growlers to go. Previously, the ability to sell growlers was limited to brewpubs, so 75th Street Brewery and McCoy's were really the only options in town to grab a jug-o-beer. This new bill opens up the door for places like The Foundry, Flying Saucer, Swagger and many others to sell beer for customers to take home.

At first glance, it would seem that this is a huge benefit for these businesses because it provides a new means for them to make quick sales and move product more quickly. And, depending on who you talk to, this is also a benefit for the beer drinker, who will see a huge increase in the number of options for (presumably) fresh draft beer to take home. Of course, there are those out there who argue that growlers can easily compromise beer quality and often aren't the best representative of what the brewery intended, but that's an entirely different post in itself.

With this step forward, I'll be interested to see how successful growler sales are and if Missouri ever decides to expand the law to include growler sales at retail establishments like liquor and convenience stores. There are a few states that are already doing this like New York, New Jersey and Washington, and earlier this year a bill was proposed in Minnesota to do the same. Of course, a bill expansion/addition like that would be a LONG way off, but it's something to think about as time goes on.

So keep your eyes and ears open on Sunday morning to get a definitive answer as to whether you'll be able to start purchasing growlers in Missouri. To celebrate this occasion, enjoy the video below of a Spongebob-loving British guy with a weird haircut teaching you how to do death growls. I highly recommend the 1:53 mark:


  1. Equally as important as the potential for enjoying a wider variety of "take-home" beers, is the potential impetus for bars to add more taps to qualify, and increase the variety of "in-house" beers as well.

  2. Still no provision for traditional, single-purpose breweries like Boulevard, though...

  3. Great law, but don't forget about Gordon Biersch and Granite City that were already selling beer (in addition to the 75th St and McCoys mentioned above)

  4. Don't get me wrong, it's a welcome development. But, it's still BS. See the arbitrary cutoff there? 20 taps? What's up with that?

    I'm thinking of restaurants that, for whatever reasons, have only 8 taps or only 4, someplace like the Waldo Pizza Tap Room or the Rieger that might have something really good on tap at any given time. Why should they be barred from selling a growler of beer? It doesn't make any sense.

    I've made this point before, I'm not going to go look in the archives or anything, but we shouldn't welcome quarter measures like this we should be asking for more.

    Not every restaurant has to offer such a thing as growlers but they should at least be given the opportunity if they've gone so far as to obtain the license to sell beer in the first place.

    The arbitrary cutoff of 20 taps shouldn't be accepted.

  5. I would say that anything good that a place with fewer than 20 taps has on hand is probably not something they want to be selling growlers of because they have a limited supply and would rather get people in for food along with the drink.

  6. Like I said, participation wouldn't be compulsory, just an option. Not every restaurant sells hamburgers (though they should), but every restaurant can sell hamburgers (unless Bloomberg gets his way). Let business owners decide not jackasses in Jefferson City (or Topeka or Richmond or Washington DC).

  7. I'm in NYC right now and I have to say, the growler sales here are awesome. Duane Read (equivalent to Walgreens) stores and many groceries have growler counters with 4-6 taps, sure a lot of the taps aren't stuff I want, but nearly all have Founders and Brooklyn Brewery. Bully is right, 20 taps is a completely arbitrary restriction that will keep growlers limited to a small part of the market. Right now Missouri liquor laws are barely treading water in relation to national trends - for a state with its beer history that's a shame.

    Also, these captchas are impossible to read.

  8. "the term "restaurant bar" means any establishment having a restaurant or similar facility on the premises at least fifty percent of the gross income of which is derived from the sale of prepared meals or food consumed on such premises."

    This section concerns me. Do you think the Foundry or Flying Saucer get 50% of their gross income from the sale of food? Have you ever gone there and spent more on food than you do on beer?

    Seems to me if a restaurant used this law to sell growlers and increase beer sales they would have to be careful not to increase beer sales too much or they might become disqualified from selling growlers. Am I reading this right?

  9. I can't speak to the Foundry, but the Saucer looks to do solid business during lunch, where most people are likely not drinking any alcohol. Factor in that most of their food is twice the price of a normal beer and their food/alcohol ratio is higher than you would assume.

  10. So...what happened? Did the bill pass, or no?

    Since the writeup didn't mention anything about the bill itself, or have any links to anything, I couldn't find anything online about it.

  11. Growler sales are already legal in Missouri, except the restriction is 45 different types of draft beer. So I assume you are looking for a bill amending Missouri Statute 311.196. Several amendments have failed in the past trying to lower this limit and or get rid of the 50% food sales restriction.

  12. And as for why the limit is 45, the law was basically written to include Cicero's and exclude everyone else. The article below includes a quote from Matt Gardner of the KC Flying Saucer saying they would be borderline on the food sales requirement and, obviously, they don't sell growlers despite meeting the 45 beer requirement.

  13. that growler is Double Mountain!