This Note will begin with a brief general history of growlers in the United States and the benefits they provide to consumers, retailers, and small craft brewers. Part II will provide an overview of national alcohol distribution regulation and how the present growler law exists within this larger framework. To complete the necessary background information, Part III will provide context to the competitive landscape by way of an examination of the craft beer industry’s explosive growth. The substantive portion of the Note will follow in Part IV, beginning with an outline of the various key types of growler restrictions such as the size of the vessel, the type of license that is required, and the regulatory practice of “locking” growlers to specific establishments. After this discussion, there will be an analysis and comparison of recently passed and pending key legislation in major beer producing states. Part V will review the regulatory environment for growlers within Washington State. In this section, I will argue that states should adopt laws similar to those in Washington, which by virtue of having some of the least restrictive regulations on growler use, has built a model that is beneficial to the consumer while also encouraging business growth within the state. Part VI will then focus on more controversial legislation such as Florida’s S.B. 1714 and the impact of grassroots organization within the craft beer community to counter such measures. Tied to this discussion will be a brief examination of whether the efforts of larger brewers and distributors in sponsoring bills like S.B. 1714, when viewed under the Sherman Antitrust Act, provide for the possibility of finding collusive, coordinated action. Finally, the Note concludes with proposed recommendations for the future of growler law by reiterating changes that align closer to Washington State’s regulatory model.
Adam Star, Getting a Handle on Growler Laws, 39 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 1079 (2016).