Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Grilled cheese AND a pint, to go!

This just in! Now, you can have your grilled cheese and your pint of beer ... and take 'em both home.

Pubs and restaurants in Virginia have been allowed, for a few years now, to sell draft beer-to-go in 'growlers,' one or two-quart re-sealable glass containers. Just recently, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (VABC) stated that these establishments could also sell draft beer-to-go in 16-ounce vessels, which are commonly known as ... pints!

The first pub to take advantage of this interpretation was Falls Church, Virginia's Spacebar, which began filling mason jars with pints of draft beer-to-go, yesterday evening (7 January 2014).

As is the case in such matters, the lack of a prohibition does not, ipso facto, imply permission. So, under an abundance of caution, Spacebar's owners, Lary and Erica Hoffman, had first asked VABC officials if a close-able one-pinter could be specifically considered an acceptable "alternate" vessel, under the agency's definition of "growler." The answer came back, they're "not prohibited." AS in: yes!

Spacebar offers 24 different draft beers and just about the same number of grilled-cheese sandwiches. The pub opens at 5 pm. Early in the evening, many neighborhood folk, returning home from work, purchase these cheese sammies as take-out. The traditional two-quart sized growler might be too much libation for the nosh; but a pint, just right.

  • The regulations on growler require the to-go container to be sealed. So, after putting the lid in place, Spacebar's bartenders seal the jars with tape and the pub's logo. A refundable $1 deposit is assessed. Spacebar does NOT fill the more common (2 quart, or 2 liter) growler size.
  • Via email, Lary and Erica emphasized that this was more of a clarification from the VABC than a formal ruling.
  • And yet more regulation changes from the VABC: "Beginning Jan. 29, restaurants and nightclubs will finally legally be able to tell you, via social media or good old fashioned newspaper ads, whether they offer discounted drinks, and at what times. Previously, they could only announce their specials inside the walls of the restaurant." Washington Post Going Out Guide


  1. A German friend who living in Alexandria at the time, said he had done his research and that open container was legal in VA, as long as you aren't driving, any truth?

    1. Yes, but don't try it. Even a legally re-sealed container is not a valid defense if it is located in the driver's area, or even if in the passenger area and a police officer claims reason to assume the driver is impaired or has been drinking.

    2. Wasn't planning on it, just curious. The German in question was always quite the character.

  2. For clarification, he meant open container of beer (etc) in a moving vehicle.


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