He said that take-out is most popular on Sundays during football season and that the microbrewery sells about 50 growler refills a week. Ellicott Mills does not distribute cans or bottles to liquor stores; the only way it sells its popular, copper-colored Marzen is a pint straight from the tap or growlers to go.
Under the local bill, customers could buy a growler of Miller Lite at a restaurant or a craft brew not from the source, siphoning off potential business from brewpubs.
But not all brewpubs see such legislation as a threat.
At The Brewer's Art, owner Tom Creegan said he welcomes legislation that would allow other Baltimore restaurants to sell growlers. The Mount Vernon restaurant and bar sells cans and bottles of some of its beers at local liquor stores in addition to 20 to 30 growler refills a week at $14 a pop, mostly with its signature Resurrection Ale.
"We fill anybody's growler. We like to have ones with larger mouths" because they are easier to fill, Creegan said. "Don't come in with a plastic jug. We have to draw the line somewhere."
He said the legislation could "help expand craft beer to more people, new people. We make beer. If more want to sell it, the more, the merrier."
Marriner, of Victoria Gastro Pub, said he has no plans to sell cheap beer by the growler.
"They're all craft beers," he said proudly of his wares, which include 250 bottled beers. "We don't do Natty Boh."
On a recent Tuesday night, the bar was packed and, even though it was half-price martini night, many people still enjoyed a frothy beer — or two.
Ryan Wallace, 34, of Columbia and his friend Scott Centea of Raleigh, N.C., experimented with samplers of Kilkenny Irish Cream, among others.
"Draft beer tastes better from the bar. It tastes fresh," said Wallace, noting that many beers he tries at Victoria Gastro Pub aren't sold at most liquor stores.
While states have varying laws on beer-to-go options, especially between breweries and restaurants, the demand for craft beer is growing beyond the self-professed beer snobs.
"I think one of the appeals for the beer drinker is it's fresh beer and you can take it on home ... the idea of being able to pour draft beer at home," said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association in Colorado, a national organization of craft brewers. "Another appeal is that it's a reusable glass container. It skips recycling."
He said take-home beer's roots long precede canned beer and the growler bottle most recognize today.
"My mother tells the story of when she was a kid, in the late 30s, early 40s, when she would take the pail down to the local bar and they would fill up the pail of beer and she would take it home to her father," Gatza said.
Beer pails were common in Baltimore in the days when the city had many local breweries. But after World War II, refrigeration and bottling practices improved and growler use faded.
"It went away because nobody wanted it," said Lou Berman, 63, a trade protection manager for the Maryland comptroller's office, which enforces state alcohol and tobacco laws. "It just went out of style."
Until microbreweries began popping up across the country, he said, there wasn't any need for a system to regulate growlers, which fall between the two major classes of liquor licenses: off-premise and on-premise licenses.
Unlike a six-pack, the growler is filled from the tap, which makes the seller part manufacturer — subject to different tax and license requirements, Berman said.
City, Howard Co. weighing expansion of growler beer sales
Beer-to-go option subject of local bills proposed in Annapolis
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.