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

The Pacific Rim Whale Festival is breaching for a COVID-safe return in March. (Poster photo by Owen Crosby)
Pacific Rim Whale Festival aims for virtual return in March

Educational celebration scheduled to arrive in Tofino-Ucluelet on March 15.

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

JJ Belanger is running for mayor in Tofino’s March 6 byelection. (Photo courtesy of JJ Belanger)
Belanger enters Tofino’s mayoralty race

Belanger is former chair of Tourism Tofino and current general manager of Crystal Cove Beach Resort.

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read