Russian River Opts Out of Growler Policy Reform

Russian River Brewing CompanyIt was Danny Fullpint’s birthday week and then boom, 4th of July Week(end), and thus, this flew under the radar. Here is Russian latest stance on the California Growler Policy reform topic that’s been buzzing for months now. Cheers!

Our company policy regarding filling growlers:

Due to a recent reinterpretation of an existing liquor law by the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, breweries holding Type 23 licenses are now allowed to fill other breweries growlers with the proper legal information and state label approval. We, along with several other California breweries, have decided to continue to fill ONLY our own growlers at this time for the following reasons:

Quality: We feel our growler is the highest quality growler for the price on the market and have been using it for 20 years since we owned Blind Pig Brewing Company. Vinnie was the very first brewer to use this growler and we are still quite fond of its ease of use, look and quality! It is easy to fill, holds a good seal for up to a couple of weeks, and is dark glass so the beer does not become light struck.

Sanitation: We currently have no means to provide adequate sanitation of other types of growlers. We also do not carry replacement parts (like screw caps).

Logistics: We designed our entire draft system to accommodate filling only our specific growler. Growlers that are taller, shorter, fatter, thinner, bigger, or smaller will not fit properly under our taps.

Branding: Growlers are like bottles- it’s just another way to package beer to go. We work hard to make the best beer possible and are proud to put our name on it! Nothing against other breweries growlers, but we want our beer going home with you in our branded growler!

Thank you very much for your understanding and enjoying our brews!
Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo
Russian River Brewing Company

Commentary: There are many people who feel entitled in this world. In the case of the California Growler fill reform policy, some craft beer enthusiasts in this state feel entitled to having one growler that will get you filled, based on the interpretation of the new ABC laws.  While many on BeerAdvocate got very angry at Russian River for their stance, I think what really chapped the gang was the ‘Sanitation and Logistics’ portion of their reasoning. Let’s get down to brass tacks here. Russian River wants people to buy, use and tote growlers that say their company name on it. They’re statement is much more diplomatic than a big fat “NO!”, but that is essential their deal.  We will try and get Stone Brewing Co.’s word on the matter, but we’d bet the farm that based on how much they’ve invested into their silkscreen branded glass, that the last thing they’d want to do is deviate from that, no matter how environmentally friendly they are.


  1. Ross says

    Very interesting because this is the opposite of what I was told by a RR bartender when I visited in early May. We were discussing the topic of growler fills and I was recounting how great it was in WA, where I could walk in with any growler and get my fill from any brewery. He then showed me some brand new, blue-colored growler hang tags that they were hoping would soon be used to fill any growler that walked in to the brewery and still comply with the ABC. I took one with me as a souvenir of what I hoped was a pending evolution of the stupid CA growler laws. Somewhere since May RR must have done a 180 on their policy.

  2. James says

    Wow! I had to put on my waders to make it through all that bullshit RR! You guys should be ashamed for thinking that craft beer drinkers are dumb enough to believe that crap. If we were that dumb, we’d be drinking macro brews!

  3. afrokaze says

    in this case, it’s mostly the beer nerd crowd who are buying/talking about growlers, so RR might benefit from biting the bullet and pulling a Xbox One-style turnaround. At the end of the day it;s only really about branding and it’s kinda sad to see, but the “craft beer spirit” of community and goodwill is starting to clash with the need to make money… they should just be honest about it.

  4. Scott Schiller says

    I can understand RR not wanting to put beer in another brewery’s growlers so there’s no confusion. (“Hey, this beer from Bathwater Brewing is great!!”) But the law already accounts for that by requiring a new label that completely covers the old one, with the new label accurately reflecting the manufacturer of the beer inside. I can BARELY believe that there are some growlers out there that won’t work with RR’s equipment, but then don’t fill those types!

    Seems like RR just doesn’t want the hassle.

  5. Sean Fainsan says

    You guys are full of shit. Nothing but stuck up excuses. Your growler is better than everyone elses? Whats it made of? Also the size excuse? really? And sanitation? How is your growler any cleaner? Come on. Grow a pair. Love pliny but you need to take the stick out of your arse.

  6. entitled_Basartd says

    I’m one of the entitled that feels he should be able to bring in an unbranded growler to any brewery and get a fill. If size and shape is an issue, I will gladly buy a set of the most popular sizes and shapes out there to conform to a brewery’s system.

    I don’t have a lot of room in my apartment so it’s unreasonable for each brewery to ask its patrons to purchase a growler from each and every one that a consumer may be interested in. What about places like San Diego, where are easily 20 or more breweries within reasonable distance from one another? What about emerging markets like Los Angeles and Orange County, where new breweries are being launched at a steady pace?

    Most of us expressing our gripes with these types of announcements is because of the dishonesty being displayed by these breweries. Let’s be real about this… breweries aren’t willing to let go of the revenue they generate from growler sales. Just stop frontin’ with all this bs about logistics, sanitation, and even quality.

  7. Filthy Marty says

    It is painfully obvious that you are doing this purely for monetary reasons. Just be honest.

  8. says

    What a joke… Figured that RR would be pioneers in this movement since they have a rich tradition of small business integrity and thumbing their noses at profiteers…guess
    money does talk at RR after all.

    I’m also don’t think it’s “entitlement” so much as common sense. Shit, they could charge me a one time “subscription fee” (essentially the cost of me buying a growler from them) and then fill the growlers form any other place after I am a “subscrber”… even that ridiculous logic makes more sense than this explanation, which is clearly a thin veil for their need to sell more merch!

  9. says

    Seems like a rather arrogant and short-sighted view to me. Sorry Vinnie, but I don’t agree on this one. First off, many other breweries use the very same growler design. Why not fill those? Second, I never expect any brewery to sanitize my growler for me. That’s my problem. Third, WA has no issues with this. I can get virtually any growler filled at just about any place in WA that fills growlers.

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