Nancy Hudes and I are collaborating through Regulatory Solutions Consultancy, LLC, a new consultancy positively leveraging constraints and finding advantages in the licensed beverage industry. If we can assist you in matters of alcoholic beverage law, do not hesitate to give us a call.

As of the writing of this blog post, House Bill 292 has passed the House and the cross filed bill SB 491 has passed the Senate, so it appears that the soon to be completed 2017 session of the Maryland General Assembly will establish a 32 ounce nonrefillable container permit in the State. The permit authorizes the sale of draft beer for off-premises consumption by packaging the beer in a nonrefillable container that meets specified standards.

Many suggest that there is little interest in nonrefillable containers for draft beer (.. why not simply buy a container already filled?).

But, there has been a very real push for this “Growlette” or smaller version than the existing authorized Growler.

Since authorized by the legislature in 2014, Maryland has permitted alcoholic beverages refillable containers to be used in the sale of draft beer or wine for off-premises consumption. The holder of a refillable container permit may sell, fill, or refill any container that meets the specific standards set out in the state law, including that are fillable container must:

For beer, have a capacity of not less than 32 ounces and not more than 128 ounces; and for wine, have a capacity of not less than 17 ounces and not more than 34 ounces.

But that was too large for may beer drinkers.

So, HB 292, enacted with companion bill, SB 491, amends the state law, so “to be used as a nonrefillable container” for draft beer, a container must: be made out of aluminum; be sealable; and have a capacity of 32 ounces;

The new permit may be issued by a local board of license commissioners in 19 counties, Baltimore City, and the City of Annapolis; these are the same jurisdictions that today authorize the sale of draft beer in larger refillable containers.

This does not affect the few locals that authorize the sale of refillable wine. And its impact on refillable beer is not clear.

In amendments to both the House and Senate bills, the annual permit fees were capped at $50 for an applicant whose existing license has an off-sale privilege and $500 for those who do not currently have an off-sale privilege. An applicant with a refillable permit will not be charged an additional fee.

But the bill is a winner for the alcoholic beverage industry in Maryland which now has another good option to satisfy customers, including possibly significantly those who do not currently have an off-sale privilege and will now be able to sell a nonrefillable container of draft beer.

The new law, if signed by the Governor will go into effect July 1, 2017 and as soon thereafter as local boards enact the local permits.