TTB’s “Growler” Policy

What are the concerns for filling a “growler?”

  • A growler is either a bottle or a large glass. The distinction is solely dependent on the manner in which the brewer fills the container.
  • When is a growler a “bottle?”
  • A growler is a bottle when the brewer fills the container in advance of sale. The brewer may fill the growler prior to removal, on the brewery premises, or after tax determination on the brewpub premises.
  • When is a growler a “large glass?”
  • A growler is a large glass when a consumer uses the container to make a purchase and the brewer then fills the container. Consumers may furnish their own growler or may purchase it from the brewer.

When is tax determined on beer used to fill growlers? There are two conditions for tax determination (please refer to §§25.25(c), 25.157, and 25.158).

  • If the brewer fills a “bottle” on the brewery premises, the tax is determined upon removal for consumption or sale. Since the growler is a bottle, tax is determined on the stated net contents.
  • If the brewer fills a “glass” on the brewpub premises, the brewer must fill it from a tank that is tax determined.

What are the labeling requirements for growlers? When you are required to label your growler you should note that the label must contrast with the background. If you silkscreen your containers, the ink colors must contrast with the filled containers.

What are the requirements for the government warning label? The Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act (ABLA) of 1998 applies to sealed containers the brewer offers for sale to consumers. The ABLA does not apply to glasses or containers a brewer uses to serve beer at the brewpub. These containers do not meet the definition for a sealed container in which an alcohol beverage is offered for sale to the public.

However, the law applies to any keg or serving tank from which the brewer dispenses beer to containers. The brewer must apply a government warning label to the keg or tank. The brewer must comply with 27 CFR Part 16 regardless of whether the public has view of the keg or tank.

The statement must comply with these conditions.

  • It must be legible under ordinary conditions, and on a contrasting background.
  • The words “GOVERNMENT WARNING” must be in capital letters and bold type. The rest of the statement may not appear in bold type.
  • The maximum number of characters per inch of the warning statement is 25. All characters, including both upper and lower case, must be a minimum 2 millimeters in size.

What are the requirements for growlers that are “glasses?” When the brewer fills a growler at the tap at the brewpub, and not in advance of sale, we consider the growler as a large glass sold at retail. These growlers are not subject to Federal labeling requirements. Some States consider this bottling activity and regulate accordingly. Brewers should check with State authorities.

What are the requirements for growlers that are “bottles?” When the brewer fills on the brewery premises or on the brewpub in advance of sale, the growler is a bottle subject to labeling requirements of 27 CFR Part 16 and 27 CFR Part 25. In some States the requirements of 27 CFR Part 7 also apply.

Since growlers may be considered bottles we recommend that brewers silkscreen or label their growlers with all of the mandatory label information to avoid potential problems with growlers the brewer might subsequently refill under conditions that we would consider bottling. (See § 25.142 and 27 CFR Part 16.)

What is the mandatory label information? You must label your beer with this information:

  • Brewer name or trade name
  • Place of production – the place of production is the city, and, if necessary for identification, the state. The place of production must appear in direct conjunction with your name or trade name. If you operate more than one brewery you must choose one of these options:
  • Show all brewery locations on the label
  • Show the place of production on the label
  • Show your principal place of business on the label
  • In the event that you select to show all your locations or your principal place of business, rather than the place of production, you must also mark your label with a code to show which location actually produces the beer.
  • Net contents – show net contents as ½ gallon. You may use “64 ounces” in addition to but not in place of “½ gallon.”
  • Do not make a statement as to payment of internal revenue taxes.
  • Government warning label – use the guidelines above (see 27 CFR Part 16).