TABC cracks down on ‘crowlers’


Portable draft beer is nothing new to craft beer fans. The sight of someone dragging a 32 ounce growler bottle into one of Houston’s beer hotspots has become so common that it doesn’t even merit a mention. So it came as a surprise to many people in the beer community when the TABC decided to start shutting down the sale of canned growlers (called ‘crowlers’) at bars in Houston.

Until the booze cops showed up, the 32 ounce aluminum crowlers were the latest trend sweeping the craft beer scene. Like traditional aluminum cans, crowlers do a better job of protecting the beer from air and light than glass bottles. Unlike glass growlers, crowlers are not reusable.

Because each crowler is made to order on site, TABC claimed that usage of the canning equipment constituted manufacturing, Texas law only allows breweries and brew pubs to can beer. Texas law also prohibits bars and restaurants with mixed drink permits from selling growlers.

Petrol Station, Hughies and Nobi Public House in Webster (not to be confused with Public House Heights) were among the area bars that had invested $5,000 or more in crowler machines only to have expected revenue go down the drain. Houston is just the latest city in Texas to have its crowlers in TABC’s crosshairs.

In July, Austin craft beer lovers found out that TABC had given Cuvee Coffee Bar 30 days to remove their crowler machine. Cuvee owner Mike McKim told craft beer blog Bitch Beer that the TABC’s decision was based on the perception that crowler usage constitutes repacking beer, where as traditional growler usage doesn’t. The TABC’s reasoning seemed to be one of semantics, according to McKim who said that the discussion devolved into  a debate about the differences between closing containers via clamping, crimping or screwing.

h/t to Houston Press 


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