Feb 03

Terrariums terrorize craft beer lovers: Clean your jugs!

So you want a fresh fill of delicious craft beer in your growler. Did you clean your jugs?

About this session

You guessed it: It’s about Beer Growlers. The topic selected by our beloved and respected friend, Kendall Jones, at Washington Beer Blog.

The Session: A beer blogging first Friday eventThe Session — a monthly feature with differing points of view, representing beer bloggers of various backgrounds: Journalist, Homebrewer, career and hobbiest craft beer drinkers, people who like beer.

I’m a career drinker: Co-owner/shopkeeper/entrepreneur of a beer store to which my husband and I are caretakers. I am a steward of beer.

A steward of good beer

Sometimes I am shocked at the condition that growlers are brought in for fills. Inch-long mold stalactites turned over and reduced to half-inch stalagmites. Uncap and a whisp of odor wafts out, so wretched that it makes your eyes close, nose turn, and toes curl.

Terrariums of mold.

“Oh my god.”
Do they really think I’m going to put delicious beer on top of that crap?

I wouldn’t do that to the beer.
I am a steward of good beer. To make it bad intentionally, and sell it knowingly? Hell no.

One fellow ordering a fill presents his growler, white-gray matter on the rear side. I point it out and notify him of it’s unfillable condition, suggesting he purchase a new, clean growler if he wants to continue with a fill. His response?

He wants me to fill his dirty jug.

Oh, hell no!”
No contaminants are going on my growler fill system.

That’s my first thought.

I am more than slightly shocked and appalled.
I cannot hold back the look on my face: Clearly, I am appalled.

I think, “Be politically correct in responding.” But I sometimes lack sensitivity and softness in delivery.

“I’m sorry, I cannot fill a container in that condition.”

To expose others to this foulness is unthinkable.

There, I said it. Was it too sharp? The look on my face said so much more, I’m sure. I have never had a poker face. All I can think now is how my gutteral reaction is likely to result in an online review, this fellow accusing staff at my small beer store of being rude, snob, elitist…a “Beer Nazi!” (…but that’s a whole different topic.)

Fill condition, according to law

A friend at a local brewery said he thought it was “illegal for a customer to bring in a dirty jug for fills.” Of course, that put me into “research mode.” I love research. (Research was a favorite part of jumping into new writing projects in days-gone-by. I wish I had more time for research.)

Off I went to the ultimate source: The Washington State Liquor Control Board website, where nearly all laws as they relate to liquor…beer…in our state can be found.

Though I didn’t see anything explicity stating it is unlawful for a customer to present an unsanitary — dirty, smelly, bacteria and mold-ridden — jug, the law clearly states:

A beer and/or wine specialty store licensee may receive an endorsement to permit the sale of beer to a purchaser in a sanitary container brought to the premises by the purchaser, or provided by the licensee or manufacturer, and filled at the tap by the licensee at the time of sale under the following conditions:
Washington Administrative Code

So, don’t worry, your friend won’t get a ticket for presenting a dirty jug.

They may just get a little shock-and-awe response from the shopkeeper.

So, a letter to close this blog for February 2012′s The Session:

Dear craft beer drinker,
Please make sure your jugs are clean and dry before you store or present them for fills.
The beer steward.

1 comment

  1. Chuck Reichert

    A friend and I have been a home brewing partnership for almost seven years. We have never made an infected beer. From Charlie Papazian to Garrett Oliver, the great gurus of brewing preach sanitation. Sloppy home brewers make infected beers. I sanitize my growlers with StarSan after a thorough wash.

    If these “dirty birdies” do this with their growlers, what must their kitchens look like? Ick!

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