Let me first backtrack a little and set the scene. I live in Southern California. I have ONE brewery near me, one brewery sorta near me and two or three that are drives to reach under the best freeway conditions. Secondly, I am what economists term as “underemployed.” Not complaining but not swimming in steady cash. Lastly, I do not have unlimited shelf space. I have a small and growing “beer cellar,” but I am reaching overload in beers I can hoard as well as in pint glasses, bottles and beer T-shirts.
Now I can return to my rant. I would like to have one growler. A growler that I can fill at my local Eagle Rock Brewery, but that I can also fill at Ladyface in Agoura Hills or Hangar 24 in Redlands or at Nibble Bit Tabby downtown. I don’t A) have the space for separate growlers and B) can’t afford them anyway.
I know that current law is against this. They want growlers labeled in a similar fashion as to labels on beer sold conventionally in stores. It is a pure CYA choice. But why do we want something similar to the sometimes comical and irritating label laws in place? Can the state cover it’s…with a different approach?
Here is my idea to solve the problem and boost the economy:
Step 1 – a “Made in California” growler. It could be sold by Chambers of Commerce or by the California Brewers Association or other outlets. I would refrain from having the breweries themselves sell them so as not to impinge on their own growler sales. Maybe part of the proceeds from the sales could go to a brewer scholarship fund?
Step 2 – Create a label/sticker that can be filled out on the premises at the time the growler is filled with a link to the beer’s information on the brewer’s website. Maybe via a barcode? Seal it up and you can have a great beer for watching football (or English Premier League football in my case).
A California growler would be accepted by whichever brewery wanted to make a $10 sale vs. a sale of $0.00. At least from my standpoint. I couldn’t buy (though I was tempted) a growler from Hangar 24 to bring home some of their Polycot beer (which was great) but if I had a California growler at home, Hangar 24 would have received $15 from me. The same at Stone in Escondido or Fifty Fifty Brewing in Truckee. And for those establishments that cannot afford to get approved growlers, this would be entree to a new customer set.
It would also be a great way to promote the great beer you can find in this state. You could do a great promotion about a growler tour of California breweries. The nationwide beer community makes pilgrimages to Russian River and The Bruery. Why not incentivize them to stay a little and see more of the state? You can even promote a design contest for the growler. You could have the governor bring California beer to the next Presidential beer summit. There are so many marketing and outreach possibilities.
The beer for this week is from a brewery in Washington state that was part of the first craft brewing boom that many people haven’t tried lately if at all. It is Redhook and they have a callback with a twist. It is Big Ballard Imperial IPA. A 22-ounce bomber of hoppiness. Redhook, at the beginning, was known for their Ballard bitter. It has since fallen out of favor as the brewery has grown and become part of a brewing mini-empire. Now is a chance to re-acquaint yourself with a piece of brewing history.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.