North Carolina allows businesses with the correct beverage permits to fill growlers from kegs of beer, wine and cider. Growler regulations were last updated in 2015. Breweries with retail permits can fill growlers as can business with one of the following permits:
On-premises malt beverage permit;
Off-premises malt beverage permit; or
Wine shop permit
Definition of a Growler in North Carolina
In North Carolina, a growler is “a rigid glass, plastic, aluminum or stainless steel container with a flip-top or screw-on lid that is no larger than two liters (0.5283 gallons) into which a malt beverage, or unfortified wine that is dispensed from a keg, is prefilled, filled or refilled for off-premises consumption.”
Maximum Size of Growlers in North Carolina
Two liters, which is just a bit more than half a gallon, or 64 ounces, is the maximum size allowed in North Carolina.
How to Label Growlers in North Carolina
Growlers filled in North Carolina must be labeled by the business filling them.
Breweries selling prefilled growlers must get approval from the state ABC commission for a label that includes
the brand name of the product;
the name and address of the brewer or bottler.
the class of the product (e.g., beer, ale, porter, lager, bock, stout, etc.);
net contents (volume);
the amount of any stimulants in milligrams; and
the federal alcohol warning label.
Retailers that fill growlers on demand still have the same labeling requirements breweries do but do not have to submit their labels for approval. Their labels must contain the following additional information:
Name and address of the business filling the growler.
Date the growler was filled.
The amount of alcohol by volume if it is more than 6% ABV.
The following statement: “This product may be unfiltered and unpasteurized. Keep refrigerated at all times.”
Who Is Responsible for Cleaning a Growler in North Carolina?
Growlers should always be cleaned before they are brought to a retailer for filling. The retailer is responsible for cleaning and sanitizing unless the growler is filled from a sanitized tube or a contamination-free system, such as an automated growler station. Because those are the only filling methods allowed in North Carolina, that means the retailer is not responsible for cleaning your growler. However, a growler must be visually inspected for contamination.
Retailers can refuse to fill a growler if they think it is too dirty or for any other reason, really, as long as the reason is not discriminatory. Many retailers will also go ahead and clean your growler for you because it’s not that big a deal if the staff is not too busy.
How Growlers Can Be Filled in North Carolina
In North Carolina, growlers must be filled with either 1) a tube from the faucet that extends to the bottom of the container or 2) a commercial filling machine. They also have to be filled in compliance with FDA Food Code Section 3-304.17(c), which basically says growlers can’t be filled with foods that require strict temperature control (e.g., milk), requires that hot water be available for rinsing returned containers and mandates that the growler be filled by an employee or using a contaminant-free process that can’t be bypassed by the user if a self-serve system is used by the growler owner.
Once the growler is filled, the customer is not allowed to open or consume the contents on the premises.
This post does not constitute legal advice. If you want legal advice, consult a lawyer or someone else qualified, such as the Beer Law Center.