State alcohol officials put brakes on opening of new Asheville growler filling station

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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pisgah_growlerN.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control officials are putting the brakes on the opening of a new growler filling station on Merrimon Avenue because they’ve yet to decide specifics about sanitation and labeling rules.

Sean McNeal, of Asheville Growler, is ready to open. But on Thursday, state officials told him they would shut his business down if he opened. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports:

Store owner Sean McNeal said he decided not to open next week after speaking with Robert A. Hamilton, deputy administrator of the N.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Commission.

“He told me in no uncertain terms that he would have me shut down if I open Monday,” McNeal said Thursday. He was told that opening Asheville Growler could affect his permitting for a separate business, the laundry and pub Bar of Soap.

Sounds like a veiled threat from the alcohol officials, who should have gotten their act together and at least approved temporary rules that would allow business owners to open. The state board will meet again in a month.


Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. DC July 22, 2013

    We fill growlers all the time at Green’s in SC. They take ANY growler, do nothing to it, stick a hose in, fill it up and screw your cap back on. The consumer is responsible for sanitation. How is that so hard to do in NC?

  2. Hasil Adkins July 20, 2013

    I once found a cricket at the bottom of a Pisgah growler. Imagine my surprise after consuming three pints before discovering it!

  3. Jason July 19, 2013

    I’m curious about the sanitation aspect of this business as well. Do they clean and sanitize your growlers you bring in? Or, do they just fill it up and send you on your way? I can imagine somebody getting sick and blaming the growler place.

    1. Murphy July 19, 2013

      Do restaurants/breweries/bars currently have “sanitation rules” regarding the filling of growlers … I have seen folks bring in an empty growler and the bartender just fills it right up at several places in town …

      1. John J. July 19, 2013

        Try filling a dirty growler at the Wedge, they won’t even take them.

  4. Asheville Growler July 19, 2013

    Thanks, Jason. I’ll add a few details and an update:


    Hey folks, as you may have heard from various news outlets, we have been delayed from opening by the ABC Commission. I was told by the Deputy Administrator that if we opened on Monday, even with the proper permit required by the new law ( that they would shut us down.

    Needless to say, we are frustrated and disappointed.

    However, we may be down but we are most certainly not out. We will open in an altered form (pints, flights, pre-filled growlers, etc) hopefully on the 1st of August.

    We hope that those of you who are just as excited as we are to have a growler filling station in Asheville will continue to support us until the ABC Commission gives us permission to fill growlers.

    Thanks y’all.


    If you read the law (, and I have MANY times at this point, it says that anyone holding an off-premise retail beer license is able to fill & sell growlers once it became law. It also says that the ABC must come up w/ regulations regarding sanitation (note: NO mention of labeling) before 1/14. However, nowhere does it state that opening a filling station is contingent on the ABC adopting sanitation rules.

    On a side note: The committee that has been meeting to implement new regulations met this past Wednesday. They were very close to agreeing on temporary rules. However, one person objected to the use of a 3 basin sink (the standard for every bar & restaurant in NC) as the standard for cleaning/sanitizing glassware. His reason? It would be too onerous for some people. The rule also provided for the use of a mechanized washer. How is either one of those ‘too onerous’? What possible solution makes cleaning/sanitizing easier?

    Come to find out that the person who objected isn’t even in the Beer Industry. He’s a lobbyist. And I’m told that’s he’s lobbying for major grocery chain(s). Here in Asheville we have several being built at this time (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, & Harris Teeter) on the same street where my filling station will be. Which makes me wonder if this lobbyist isn’t stalling this thing on purpose.

    To finish: I plan on providing the highest quality beers (my inaugural line-up includes Grande Cru & Boulevard Saison-Brett among others) with the highest quality counter pressure fills (Pegas CrafTaps) with the highest quality control when it comes to sanitation. I’m friends with many of the brewers in Asheville. I’m a homebrewer. I know what it takes and know the responsibility inherent for a business like mine.



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