Viren Patel, who said he has been doing very well with beer growler sales at I.M. Wine in Fulton, said he'd like to try wine as well.

"That would be fantastic," said Patel, who estimates he's done between 160 and 200 beer fill-ups in about a month. At the moment he's offering six beers from kegs, including a Dogfish Head Imperial IPA named Hellhound On My Ale, perhaps for the 10-percent alcohol content. The refillable market is not for the Miller Lite crowd.

Jason Gotcher, manager of the Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia, said his restaurant has been happy with the refillable beer business, but because it already allows customers to buy bottles of wine to go, he's not sure it would go for offering refillable wine containers.

Dave Carney, owner of The Wine Bin in Ellicott City, said he's happy with the refillable container business for beer, as he's already sold nearly 250 32- and 64-ounce growlers since he started a month ago. He does not imagine he would pursue the refillable container trade for wine, however.

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"I'm not going to do it," Carney said. "It's more for restaurants that want to tap into the retail market."

That includes Barbera, who sees great possibilities and hopes the apparent lack of opposition to the bill is a promising sign.

"It's not over until it's over," he said, "but I'm optimistic."

Four other alcohol-related bills would potentially expand sales in Howard County. One would allow retirement communities to sell alcohol at social functions.

Another bill would allow local wine to be sold at farmers' markets, and a third, which would currently apply only to Victoria Gastro Pub, would allow the owners to sell at the pub beer they brew on their farm.

The fifth bill reduces from 500 to 400 feet the minimum distance between a restaurant with a liquor license and a public school. Guzzone said that bill is to accommodate a restaurateur who wants to open an Indian restaurant in Columbia on a site that is 489 feet from Wilde Lake Middle School.

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