Brewers try to export Oregon's growler culture

A customer looks at bottles of beer on sale in the shopping area of the small craft brewery of Eataly, a temple to Italian gastronomy, on August 22, 2012 in Rome.

Though the U.S. economy continues to sputter its way out of the recession, the craft brewing industry is booming. The Brewer's Association trade group says more than half of Americans now live within 10 miles of a craft brewer, and many of those brewers want to make it easier for customers to bring home their beer using a refillable container called a growler.

Well known to beer enthusiasts, growlers are glass jugs that are closed of with nifty ceramic seals and come with built-in handles for easy transport.

In Oregon, the growler's convenience and popularity has spread beyond just breweries -- at least one gas station has gotten into the mix. The Stop & Go Mini-mart and Shell station in Bend opened a growler filling station in the store, featuring 30 different craft beers.

Most of those selections are only available on draft, according to one of the store's bartenders Dolly Haney. The reason for that, according to brewers, is simple.

"A growler is in a lot of respects the only way they can cost effectively package their product," said Scott Metzger, the founder of the the Freetail Brewing Company in San Antonio. He said bottling and canning lines represent huge capital investments for small breweries that are still building their brands.

He said while the craft beer movement has meant huge changes for industry, Texas liquor laws have failed to keep up, changing little since the days after Prohibition.

"So we've really fallen behind the rest of the country in terms of having an environment that fosters the growth of the craft beer industry like we've seen everywhere else," Metzger said.

Metzger wants to see Texas join other states that have already changed their laws.

Washington state put a law in place this year allowing for growler fills. As did Arizona, where growler language was included in a broader liquor bill at the request of the drugstore chain Walgreens. But no word yet on whether you'll be able to fill up a growler when you get your prescriptions.

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