Growler District: DC Brau Paves Way for Draft Beer Take-Out
DC Brau is at it again. Brewery founders Jeff Hancock and Brandon Skall's crusade for D.C. beverage law reform started in February, when they wrote and introduced a law, that subsequently passed, allowing District breweries to serve beer at on-site tasting rooms.
A month ago, despite a precedent that growlers were not kosher in D.C., Skall and Hancock started selling to-go jugs of their brew after reviewing the language in their license and deciding it was legal to do so.
Now the game has changed for everyone.
Last Friday, Skall and Hancock received a letter from the District's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration saying the board agreed with their interpretation. According to Skall, the letter (signed by all seven members of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board) states that DC Brau has the right to sell growlers, as long as the bottles have a heat-activated seal and are consumed off-premises. (Due to a reporting error, this post originally said ABRA director Fred Moosally had signed the letter.)
"It was very exciting," Skall says. "It felt like a huge victory. It felt like the board understood and was trying to work with us."
This win is great for DC Brau, but represents a much larger victory for beer lovers. Last week's acknowledgement from ABRA opens the door for other breweries, beer shops, and brewpubs across D.C. to follow suit. Retail establishments like De Vinos or D'Vines, which have in-house taps, or Whole Foods, which offers growler fills at locations throughout Northern Virginia, now have an official "okay" from ABRA to sell draft beer to-go.
Selling growlers has made a significant impact on DC Brau's business, too. Skall explains:
The economic advantage of selling growlers has been massive. We have cash in hand, money we can put right back into the company immediately. When we sell beer to the distributor we have to wait for them to sell it and then bring back the money, which can take from 15 to 30 days. We have to pay up front for supplies to brew, so having the growler sales weekly significantly helps us.
DC Brau growlers are available at their tasting room on Bladensburg Road NE, which Skall reports has been getting between 200 and 400 visitors each week, every Saturday between 1 to 4 p.m. But soon growlers may start popping up all over the city.
Photo courtesy of DC Brau