A new state law means Harford County beer lovers can fill up their own containers from the tap at local retail establishments starting Oct. 1, and liquor license holders around the county are starting to receive permission to dispense beer in take-home containers, commonly called growlers.
The Harford County Liquor Control Board unanimously approved permits Wednesday for refillable beer containers for Wine World in Abingdon, Pool N' Pints in Aberdeen, Friendship Wine & Liquor in Abingdon and DuClaw Brewing Company in Bel Air South.
As microbreweries blossom around Maryland, the growler jugs have been popular with residents who like craft beers and enjoy being able to take home drinks that may be unavailable in package form. Several counties in Maryland already permit growlers, but Harford was not among them.
Mike Scheuerman, of Friendship Wine & Liquor, said refillable growlers will enable them expand their craft beer selection and appeal to new customers.
Judith Powell, administrator for the liquor board, said Harford is among the counties added to the growler law under legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year.
The refillable containers will be permitted for Class A-1 retail, Class D tavern and Class A-1 restaurant licenses, the latter with off-sale beer and wine or beer, wine and liquor, Powell explained. Any of those license holders that want to refill growlers will still need to obtain the separate permit from the liquor board. Applications are on the liquor board's website.
The permits allow customers to bring in growlers from any retailer or company, but the container must be between 32 and 128 ounces, be sealable, have an identifying mark of the seller, carry a federal health warning statement required for alcohol containers, display instructions for cleaning the container and have a label stating that the consumer is responsible for cleaning it and consuming the contents within 48 hours.
Businesses pay $50 for the annual permit to dispense to growlers. The beer may be dispensed between 8 a.m. and midnight.
Powell said DuClaw had previously been able to sell beer in growlers under a state manufacturing license it received when it opened its microbrewery and restaurant at Bel Air South years ago. After the microbrewery moved out, DuClaw continued to sell its craft brews in growlers from the restaurant, a situation Powell said was confusing and has since been clarified by the passage of the new law.