Each week I will be examining unique alcohol laws across the country, and how we handle the subject of those laws here in Indiana. Today we take a look at the legalities behind growlers.

For those who are unaware, a growler is a container used to take draft beer out of a brewery for consumption off of the premises. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, families would routinely send a member of the family to the local saloon to bring home beer for the evening meal. Early growlers were small, galvanized pails and when the beer sloshed around inside the pail it created a rumbling sound as the CO2 escaped the lid, hence the term “growler”.

With the increased popularity of microbreweries around the state and country, growlers have once again become an effective way to grab 64 ounces of your favorite local brew directly from the source. And at some local Indiana breweries, such as Bier Brewery and Broad Ripple Brewpub in Indianapolis, growlers and bullet growlers (smaller, 32 ounce containers) are actually your only way to take home beer from their ever-changing lists.

Some states, however, restrict or actually prohibit growler filling and use. In Massachusetts, breweries are only permitted to fill their own growlers. In California, breweries can fill growlers from other breweries, but are required to affix brewery-identifying stickers to the growlers. Texas and Oklahoma don’t allow growler sales for takeout, and some states, such as Georgia and South Dakota, don’t allow growler sales of any kind. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Oregon allows individuals to refill growlers on their own at beer-filling stations located in convenience stores.

Found in Indiana Code 7.1-5-3-4, Indiana’s laws on growlers are fairly lax. In Indiana, local breweries weren’t allowed to refill growlers until 2011, when the law prohibiting the refill of bottles that once contained alcohol was amended to exclude local breweries from this prohibition. Today, breweries are allowed to refill growlers that originated from any brewery with their own beer. Additionally, Indiana has no law regarding volume limits, but the law does require breweries to affix identifying stickers to growlers refilled that originated from another brewery. For example, Bier Brewery would have to place a Bier sticker on a Broad Ripple Brewpub growler when filling that growler with Bier beer.

As with homebrewing laws, referenced in a previous post that you can read here, Indiana has embraced local breweries with common-sense growler laws. While I encourage you to embrace local breweries as well, please do so responsibly.

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