Beer drinkers in B.C. had the chance to fill their growlers at restaurants so that the restaurants could sell off the beer from opened kegs before they spoiled. (Joe Wiebe Photo)

Beer drinkers in B.C. had the chance to fill their growlers at restaurants so that the restaurants could sell off the beer from opened kegs before they spoiled. (Joe Wiebe Photo)

B.C. ends short experiment with growler fills at restaurants

Province extends take-out sales of six-packs, wine

For 111 days from March 26 until July 15 B.C. bars and restaurants were legally permitted to fill growlers of draft beer for customers to take away.

But few people knew, or were able to take advantage of it.

That’s because the temporary rule change by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch was designed to help restaurants, which were take-out only at the time, to be able to sell beer from kegs that were opened prior to the COVID-19 shutdown. The temporary permit was reversed in a July 13 policy update that extended the sale of packaged beer and wine from stores until Oct. 31.

“A lot of restaurants and brewery tasting rooms had surplus draft beer around, so they were allowed to use that to fill growlers,” said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “It wasn’t [advertised], because you don’t want to [advertise] something you will run out of.”

READ ALSO: So you think you’re not a beer drinker

In the meantime, it stoked a small discussion in the industry as some customers liked it, said one rep from a local craft brewery. Some restaurants also abused the rule, which was supposed to be limited to a 1.9-litre growler or a 650ml bomber.

“There was examples of mason jars and other containers being used that were not laid out by the liquor regulation,” said Ken Beattie, executive director of the British Columbia Craft Brewers Guild.

Growler fills have now reverted back to only those establishments with a brewery manufacturing licence, which is the way breweries have always liked it, Beattie said.

“It’s been the lifeblood of new breweries to have growler sales, and tasting rooms,” Beattie said. “The guild of brewers advocated for it to protect the product, which is best fresh off the tap, the best beer you can have, and it drives traffic to ensure sales.”

In fact, for as popular as they are at many breweries, growlers are likely to be phased out at some breweries around B.C.

That’s because the reliance on growlers has decreased thanks to the advancement of mobile packaging companies which show up to can and bottle beer at small breweries, Beattie added. Having their own in-house packaging is a cost many brewers can’t afford. Other advancements – such as the “crowler,” a one-litre can – are also changing things by holding large amounts of beer, like a growler, but keeping it fresher for longer.

READ ALSO: New brewery and taproom coming to downtown Victoria

The reality is there aren’t a lot of requests for the right to serve growlers that the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association is hearing about, Tostenson said.

“It’s getting into their turf, it’s really the domain of the brewers and it’s not a fight that we’re [taking on],” Tostenson said.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(James Holmes/Contributed)
Kelowna chef to compete on the Food Network’s Fire Masters

Chef James Holmes will compete for $10K on an upcoming episode of Fire Masters

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Approximately 2,500 teachers, school staff vaccinated in Central Okanagan

Central Okanagan Teachers’ Association said teachers are thrilled

City of West Kelowna. (Phil McLachlan/West K News)
City of West Kelowna puts more than $35M into infrastructure projects

Sizable investments into road and active transportation network projects

A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens/North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
Hummingbirds back for another Okanagan season

North America’s littlest birds return, and they’re hungry

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

(Kingfisher Boats photo)
In the market for a boat in the North Okanagan? Be prepared to wait

Vernon’s Kingfisher Boats is out of 2021 models, with many 2022 models already pre-sold

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

Most Read