Ohio Beer Counsel
Information and Commentary on the Issues Facing Ohio's Craft Beer Community, Breweries and Distilleries - Brewed by the Craft Beer Lawyers of Bruns, Connell, Vollmar & Armstrong's Brewery & Distillery Practice Group
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Ohio Growler Laws - Part 2

While changes in Ohio's laws over the past few years now permit consumers to enjoy draught at the brewery, consumers are also transporting draught, via growlers, to enjoy at home.  Growlers (and howlers) obviously come in different sizes, but now the material from which they are made is expanding.  Glass, stainless steel, plastic, insulated are all popular options.  Here's a question you've probably never asked yourself:  I'm legally allowed to have them filled at any brewery...right?  I mean, there wouldn't be inconsistency in the law related to what type of growlers can be filled where, would there? 

Ohio's craft breweries typically have an A-1c and/or A-1-A permit.  Let's break them down as they relate to growler fills.

A-1c

Among other things, a brewery is permitted to "manufacture beer and sell beer products in bottles or containers for home use."  The holder of an A-1c is only permitted to sell beer it makes.  You know what a bottle is, but container is undefined.  Therefore, the plan language of the law suggests you can fill any container, regardless of size or material, at a brewery who holds only an A-1c permit.

A-1-A

An A-1-A permits a brewery who holds an A-1c to also serve guest taps, spirits and wine so long as certain requirements are met.  This is where things get sticky.  A brewery who also holds an A-1-A may sell any beer it has on tap "dispensed in glass containers with a capacity that does not exceed one gallon and not for consumption on the premises where sold if all the following apply:"

  • A-1-A permit premises in same city/township as A-1c manufacturing permit premises;
  • Containers are sealed, marked, and transported in the manner required so they aren't considered open containers; and
  • Containers have been cleaned immediately before being filed.

Applying the plain language of the law, it's technically illegal for an A-1-A permit holder to fill a container not made of glass, as well as a container (even if glass) larger than one gallon.  A growler station (holder of D-8 permit) has the same limitations.

The inconsistency between what containers A-1c and A-1-A permit holders can fill, and whether they have to be cleaned and sealed, doesn't make much practical sense.**  If the law made sense, we wouldn't need lawyers and then we'd all be doomed!  At the end of the day, this serves as yet another example of how breweries can unintentionally violate the law.

Be careful out there.  Contact OBC with any questions.

** OBC recommends all breweries clean and seal growlers/howlers