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Another obscure liquor law: Growlers are illegal

I'll bet you didn't know that growlers are technically illegal.

Ever seen a growler? It's a resealable glass jug used to hold draft beer. If you own a growler, you can have it filled at a number of local bars.

The upside to having a growler is the beer is fresher than if it was bottled, and you get a large quantity of beer (about five pints, depending on the size of the growler) for much cheaper than if you had bought five pints individually at a bar.

According to liquor laws, it's illegal to "refill or reuse any container" with beer or liquor in a licensed establishment, according to Steve Fogleman, chairman of the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City.

This law, if I may say so myself, is silly. People have been filling growlers in Baltimore City since before Prohibition. I'm glad the liquor board hasn't been enforcing it.

In fact, Fogleman is working to have the law repealed ...

"We're going to change that rule," he told me yesterday.

Fogleman has been eyeing a bunch of old liquor laws that he thinks don't make sense anymore, and wants to have them updated. 

Here's another one: Have you ever seen city watering holes set out free finger food on the bar? A year or two ago, I was in Birds of a Feather, the scotch bar in Fells Point, and the owner, Alicia Horn, set out small, homemade personal pan pizzas for her regulars. Well, that's illegal too -- at least in the city, Fogleman said.

City liquor laws state that bars can't give out free food -- just "pretzels, crackers, chips and the like," Fogleman said. State law says the same thing, except it includes hors d'oeuvres.

"I've been in [city] bars where they put something a little more substantial than pretzels out," Fogleman said.

Fogleman hopes to allow city bars to give away free hors d'oeuvres too.

Good idea, Steve.

(Sun archive photo)

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