Presently, Illinois retailers cannot sell growlers of beer to customers. The privilege is reserved to Brewpubs and Breweries but it’s never been codified as a regulation or a law. Illinois Senate Bill 596 (as amended) changes that and introduces a “use of growlers” component to the current sanitation requirements found in Subsection 6-6.5 of the Illinois Liquor Control Act (235 ILCS 5/6-6.5).

As currently enrolled the new law states that manufacturers (brewers), Brewpubs, and on-premise retail licensees, would be allowed to fill growlers (oddly, only three different sizes are called out in the statute – 32, 64 and 128 oz growlers), and seal and sell them for off-premise consumption. But only if rigorous requirements for sanitization and other requirements are met. These include:

  • The beer must be transferred within the licensed premises by an employee at the time of sale (i.e., no pre-fills);
  • The employee must be 21 years or older;
  • The growler can hold no more than 128 fluid ounces (NOTE: this wording is more permissive that the introductory sections of the bill that state only three sizes of growlers can be filled and is the correct way to legislate this. The mandate of three different sizes another bill section is confusing and restrictive.);
  • The growler must have a closure – either a twist-type, cork, stopper, or plug and MUST HAVE A TAMPER PROOF SEAL;
  • The growlier must have a tag or label affixed that states:
    • The brand name of the product dispensed,
    • The name of the brewer or bottler;
    • The type of product such as beer, ale, lager, bock, stout, or other brewed or fermented beverage;
    • The net contents;
    • The name and address of the business that cleaned, sanitized, labeled, and filled or refilled the growler
    • The date the growler was filled or refilled;
    • The statement “This product may be unfiltered and unpasteurized. Keep refrigerated at all times.”; and
    • The licensee filling the growler must abide by the rigorous sanitation requirements of the act by cleaning the growler in one of three specified ways and of Title 11 of the Illinois Administrative Code Section 100.160.

The Illinois beer growler bill clarifies that growlers are not original packages as that term is used in the Illinois Liquor Control Act and once a consumer takes possession of a growler from the licensee, the beer growler and its contents are deemed to be in the sole custody, control and care of the consumer.

The bill also provides that brewers and distributors can now also sell installation services in addition to coil cleaning services and the bill expands the range of dispensing accessory services that can be sold to retailers to include glycol draft systems and pumps.

You can follow the status of the proposed new Illinois growler law here.