I was at the Rock Bottom brewery in La Jolla (it was late, nothing else was open) last Monday. The bartender showed me some new labels that would finally allow me to fill my Hydroflask growlers in California.
Rock Bottom and its sister company, Gordon Biersch, are both owned by Craft Works. The majority of their beers are very corporate, meaning that they’re brewed to a corporate recipe. That’s not to say they’re bad, but outside of the occasional Brewer’s Whim, they’re pretty much the same at all of the franchises.
I go to Rock Bottom because when I get off of work late, they’re open while so much else is closed. I also really like their Mary Jane IPA.
California’s growler law requires that the growler have the name and address of the brewery, the Surgeon General’s warning, the name of the beer, and the alcohol content of the beer printed on the growler. The thing is, I’ve bought and filled growlers from breweries that didn’t have all of the required information.
On Friday I decided to test the label law. I specifically picked my growler with the 10 Barrel logo etched onto it. I could have taken the blank one, but that wasn’t the point.
The first bartender was part-time and hadn’t seen the new labels, but told me he’d talk to the bar manager. The labels are new and are legal. The second bartender wanted to argue about it for 20 minutes and was telling me they’re not making $4 on the glass. I tried explaining that I have no use for another POS glass growler. Guy was a damned idiot trying to pass himself off as an intellectual.
Finally I got the growler filled. I paid $11 for the fill. Now why they didn’t make $4 on the glass, I’ll fill growlers there more often because it’s the first place I’ve seen doing something to work with the growler law. A friend and I met there for dinner and ran up a $60 check as well, but the bartender was obsessed with the $4 “loss”. Funny thing is that in three hours of sitting at the bar, I didn’t see another single growler filled.
The label is definitely a positive move. The next step is educating the servers about the law.
On August 27, 2013, Assembly Bill 647 passed the house. This makes it legal for breweries to fill growlers, if they can come up with a label that adheres to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s rules. This filled me with home that we might finally get to where other progressive states, like Utah, are. What I see now from the local breweries is nothing but excuses for why they won’t fill growlers from other breweries. I can’t understand how selling me a $5, ugly glass growler is more important than selling beer. All I can figure is that they ordered so many of these growlers that they need to try and sell them.