Dear PoPville – D’Vines no longer allowed to sell growlers

“Dear PoPville,

ABRA told the manager of D’Vines this weekend that they were no longer allowed to sell growlers, since they are a retailer and not a manufacturer. You can read about it here if you haven’t. I’m pretty disappointed, since I really like the store and it seemed to be a great boost for them.

If you’d like to express your support the OP also sends a letter he sent to CM Graham:

Dear Councilmember Graham,

I am writing you concerning the recent decision of ABRA to bar the wine shops D’Vines and De’Vinos from selling growlers of beer. I have enjoyed shopping at D’Vines since it opened; they have good wine at a good price, and a good selection of beer. I also want to support our local businesses, and I hope you do too. ABRAs decision, that D’Vines is not allowed to sell growlers under their current license, hurts local business, and serves no valid purpose of their regulatory scheme. The growlers are sealed immediately after filling, and they are not consumed on the premises. I hope that you will consider ways to encourage ABRA to reconsider their decision.”

I believe that ABRA is enforcing the current law so supporters should probably encourage CM Graham and the Council to change the law so that it would be legal to sell growlers at D’vines.

De Vinos is located at 2001 18th St. NW in Adams Morgan and their sister store, D’Vines, is located at 3103 14th Street, NW in Columbia Heights.  We discussed the growlers here.

56 Comment

  • austindc

    RAGE! That sucks! Growlers at Dvines was a great idea! It was a great way to get beers that are harder to find in bottles, and I felt the prices were a little better too. Also, it makes good environment sense. We can reuse our growlers over and over. Every time I get a six pack, there’s a whole load of glass and paper that has to be recycled. I know we can still go to DC Brau and Port City to get growlers filled, but they are hard to get to and don’t have the variety that Dvines can offer. I’m just sad all around.

  • I disagree completely with bothering our council member for this issue. I don’t think growlers are a good idea, and I don’t really care that they would be a boon to the business trying to sell them.

    I’d rather focus on promoting public health and safety (e.g. pushing for the renovation of a local recreation center, as in the previous post) rather than on changing legislation to help a business sell huge volumes of beer for cheaper. Seriously!

    • You, sir, need to relax and have a beer. I would offer you one myself, but I can no longer fill my growler.

      While I appreciate your desire to get pressing causes the attention they deserve, growlers are not about helping a business “sell huge volumes of beer for cheaper.”

      As Austin DC stated, it is an environmentally friendly way of selling a product that is already being purchased. This is not about binge drinking and selling massive amounts of cheap beer, so please remove the stick from your posterior and take your outrage elsewhere.


      • Yes, because outrage is only allowed here when it agrees with the general commenter consensus? I thought this was an open discussion, all opinions welcomed. You apparently don’t feel comfortable with ideas that unsettle your world view.

        • The comments on PoP, as profound as most of them are, are hardly unsettling to my world view.

        • wouldn’t “an open discussion” include a bit of back and forth between people that disagree?

          • OK, then, some back and forth. I agree, I shouldn’t have said “bother” our council member, but rather “use up his precious time and ours”.

            We are, as a neighborhood, struggling with crime and funding for public infrastructure work that keeps threatening to disappear (e.g. Georgia ave work, that playground/rec center), among other problems. Residents don’t have the time to attend ANC meetings frequently enough or write letters on serious issues (yes, I stand by it, the right to sell or buy beer in growlers is not a serious issue) as it is. I think it’s poor use of our time, and of our elected officials’ time to reach out to them to ask to loosen regulations related to alcohol sales.

            Some of you guys have arguments about the target customers of this particular business. If the city’s regulation are changed, D’Vines will sell premium beer in growlers, but what would stop the local bullet proof glass liquor store from selling cheap beer in growlers to those who drink on the street all day? They’ll be done drinking that long before the bubbles are gone and won’t be needing to put it in a fridge.

      • +1. Pru – You act as if contacting CM Graham supporting the sale of growlers would somehow detract from “promoting public health and safety” – whatever that even means. What is it about growlers that makes you think they’re not a good idea? It’s an affordable and eco-friendly way to enjoy a wide variety of quality beers.

        Really dissapointed to hear this. Just bought mine two weeks ago and only got to refill it twice.

        Anyone think the establishments still allowed to re-fill/sell growlers will fill the one I bought at De Vino’s ?

    • hey buzzkill, why dont you think growlers are a good idea? or are you just a teetotaler all around? if so, maybe you should go read your article about the local recreation center and go volunteer or whatnot and don’t read articles that don’t interest you.

      • You forgot “go back to the suburbs”.
        Clearly this article DOES interest her. Enough to offer her opinion, at least.

    • I also take issue with your idea of “bothering” a council member. Last I checked it was their job to voice the concerns of their constituents.

    • “ABRA operates under the authority of a seven-member Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board that sets policy parameters for the Agency. Members of the ABC Board are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.”

      As the Council confirms the appointments for the Board which controls ABRA, then yes, you should “bother” your council member.

    • “I don’t think growlers are a good idea, and I don’t really care that they would be a boon to the business trying to sell them.”

      OK. You’ve justified your objection with a speculation that’s clearly not the case. D’Vines went to great expense to install an expensive draft system and growler filler and just bought 600 custom printed growlers. Clearly they thought it was worth the investment.

      Also, do the math, pru(de). A growler is a half a gallon of beer. Just 64 ounces. That is less by volume than a six pack. We’re not talking “huge volumes of beer” by any stretch of the imagination.

      • Well,

        Perhaps D’Vines should have checked to see if their permitting allowed them to act like a manufacturer rather than a retailer before spending gobs of money on something?

        It isn’t like the law was changed after they decided to do this. They didn’t bother doing an iota of reserch into whether they were actually allowed to sell beer this way and went ahead and did it. They got lucky and got away with it for a while and even when caught didn’t have to pay any onerous fines. They weren’t allowed to do this from the beginning, but as per the standard hipster creed, laws are for the non-hipster initiated, and laws are only to be observed or followed as long as it doesn’t inconvenience me.

        Seriously, we just had a similar conversation was just had about that place who decided to forge its liquor license.

        • Nobody’s saying D’Vines should be able to ignore the law, just that the law should be changed.

        • You were doing fine until “hipster” slipped in there a couple times.

          New Ruler: Dismiss anything said in a blog comment when the commenter has to drop the term “hipster” to show how above being “hip” he or she is.

    • austindc

      I agree that we may have bigger fish to fry (though the same maybe could be said for ABRA), though I must correct the “huge volumes of beer” claim (as much as I like picturing it). A full size growler typically holds 64 ounces – 8 ounces less than a six pack of 12 ounce bottles.

      Two parentheticals in one sentence? That was awesome!

  • Prediction – growlers become legal but require a special license that will entail additional application procedure and additional fees. Shakedown, DC style.

  • Puritanism is America needs to end. What’s with the prohibitionist tendencies? I struggle to understand.

    • Totally man…the “man” and his “licensing” and “permits” is just so communist.

      I mean, I think I am going to start filling growlers off my back porch. Why would I ever think there would be a bare minimum of requirements or regulations to follow?

    • Yeah, this isn’t about beer. I wouldn’t want a soft drink bottled at a facility that doesn’t have the right sanitation and isn’t covered by an inspection/licensing regime, either.

  • 1) Install an expensive tap system without checking with ABRA or current alcohol regulations
    2) ?????
    3) Profit!

    Great plan, D’Vines! Hope you guys can get it straightened out.

    • To be fair, it doesn’t exactly jump out at you from the statute unless you’re looking for it.

      • They should have looked for it, is the point. Especially if they’re outlaying a bunch of money for an expensive draft system. Poor business decision, if true.

      • To be fair, the law is pretty clear. When DC Brau wasn’t sure if they could (as a manufacturer), then asked ABRA for a legal opinion, which they received.

        Apparently D’vines didn’t do their homework and made a bad assumption.

  • As long as DC Brau can still sell growlers, I’m not going to fly into a rage. But this sucks, they should totally be allowed to do it. I’m so sick of DC regulating the bejeezus out of everything.

    • * Ahem *

      As a representative of the DC City Slang Squad, I must ask that you display the proper permitting indicating your are in compliance with all the appropriate bylaws and up to date on your fees when using words like “bejeezus”.

      Thank you, and for more information please dial the mayor’s 311 line for all residents.

  • I tried to talk my girlfriend into getting a kegerator for the house for “environmental” reasons. For some reason she didn’t see it that way

  • growlers seem like a great idea (i really miss being able to bring in plastic bottles to be filled with rice wine from my mekong delta days), but it’d probably be hard to put together a law that didn’t create some undesired/unintended consequences. limiting to breweries kind of makes sense, sadly.

    • I bought a litre of wine in an Evian bottle in Italy for one euro and could drink it on the street. Look into this U.S.

  • I like D’Vines very much and think that the management, who I’ve had some experience with, it quite good at running a beer and wine shop. I prefer their non-growler beer, so I don’t feel strongly on this, aside from wanting the place to profit and succeed.

    So I don’t mean to be a buzzkill here, but these regulations are in place to prevent things like deadly bacteria from growing inside of sealed bottles that someone might put in their refrigerator. Frankly, I think D’Vines is likely in violation of FDA regulations as well. They need to hire a lawyer and get into compliance with what are actually common-sense government controls.

    • You can’t regulate against stupidity. People need to know that they should do their dishes. Plus, how many of us work in offices where people use the same water bottles day in and day out. It is just common sense to clean them and nobody has suggested that it be the law.

      • You’re not selling your food commercially. Are you really suggesting we get rid of all FDA regulations covering food manufacturers? Because there are several giant books of them. I think we’re writing about two different things.

        People bottling commercial products need to be regulated. That’s not a very controversial statement.

    • Years ago there was a brewery in MA that sold growlers. They sold the growlers already filled and sealed according to health codes and then charged a big deposit (something like $5-$10) on the bottle itself to encourage their return.

      May not be the best solution, but it’s one possible way to prevent what you’re describing.

      • Good points Poon and former lawyer. That does sound like a good compromise. Like a blue rhino propane. Bring in your empty and take out a full one.

      • Sweetwater Tavern in Fairfax does the same thing.

        Never had the chance to get growler beer from D’Vines, hopefully they can start the sales up again soon.

    • To be fair, growlers are meant to be consumed within a day of purchase because they do not hold carbonation. There isn’t enough time between the pour and you drinking it for anything to grow, and furthermore the alcohol in the beer makes it very difficult for anything to grow in the first place. I suppose if one were to show up with a unwashed growler that’s been left sealed in the sun there might be an issue. Or if you keep it in the fridge forever because you love the taste of flat beer-water. But that’s a user-issue, not theirs. You don’t leave your milk in the sun for a day and take a swig, right?

      That being said, if there are regs, there are regs. If they don’t make sense, well, they should be changed.

      • If you get the right kind of cap that can vacuum seal, growler beer can last for up to a month if unopened, but obviously the sooner the better nonetheless. There are tons of places up and down New York State that fill growlers, including bars. Now my two growlers are just sitting empty and sad on my shelf.

  • As per the usual, lots of people spewing misinformation here beginning with umm upthread. ABRA itself ‘reinterpreted’ their regulation re: retailer and manufacturer licensure with respect to the growlers. Dvines originally got the ‘ok’ from ABRA as long as the growler was sealed thus ensuring non-consumption on site. George Aguliar, dvines manager, is a competent and by the way all around good guy. To suggest he didn’t do his homework before purchasing said equipment is plain wrong. The guys who work there are not ‘hipster’, they, like others who work retail or service industry, who have to deal with self important DC young professionals, may on occassion be short with people. But to just throw out “oh they must not have their shit together” is asinine. That’s why I work with knives in a kitchen because its better for most of you turds that I don’t interact with you. Get Bent. Drink Beer – Good or Shitty depending on the spirits.

    • Well, thats clearly not true because if ABRA issued them a determination, then arbitrarily “changed” their minds then Devines would have the easiest lawsuit “win” on their hands ever.

      But, thats not the way it happened now is it, otherwise they would already be in court and Mr. Agular would already be shopping for yachts to buy with the proceeds.

  • Devines/vinos:

    if you need anyone to sign a petition to change the laws, please let me know. I enjoyed the growlers and have had 3 a week since you started, and I will be very sad that this cannot continue (as I cannot stand DC Brau and their overhopped product).

    And my building will be sad, as the amount of bottles in recylcing has greatly dimished since you started the growlers.

    I have written my council member about this issue. Not to bother them, but I do not care about parks or children. I just care about beer.

  • What were the beers that Devines/vinos was filling growlers with? I am mostly interested to know if they had keg beers that were hard to get…because if so, I’d be really pissed that I just found out about this and didn’t have a chance to partake…

    • They’d rotate them around a bit, and a lot of them were hard (or impossible) to find on tap locally. The one that really stands out was Breckenridge Brewery 471 Small Batch Double IPA.

  • The public health issue is a ruse. One reason people started making beer is because it was at one time safer than water. Once you start the mash, the ph drops to a level that most bacteria can’t tolerate. Wort is sterilized during the boil, and both alcohol and hops are natural preservatives. The worst thing any bacteria capable of growing in beer can do is taste bad.

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