lcbo growler

LCBO to introduce growlers and craft beer tasting bar

The LCBO is getting a growler program. There have been rumours of this for a while, but earlier this week the agency issued an email to local breweries inviting them to submit products for consideration for the launch of the program, which will start here in Toronto at the flagship Summerhill location.

The email reveals that Summerhill will not only feature the LCBO's first growler filling station, but also a craft beer tasting bar.

The email also reveals that LCBO staff will dispense beer directly from kegs into growlers and that the program will only be available to products that are not already listed at the LCBO in another format, i.e. beers that are already available in bottles and cans won't be taking up space in the keg fridge, so this should mean more craft beer variety at the LCBO.

You can expect seasonal or limited edition beers, or even beer specially brewed for the LCBO growler program.

Additionally, customers will also have the option to buy pre-filled, refrigerated growlers, but it seems that for now, the program is only open to brewers who are capable of delivering beer directly to the Summerhill LCBO -- meaning you shouldn't expect to see beers from too far astray geographically.

The LCBO will be selling their own branded growlers for customers to purchase, return, and exchange for refill, and they will only be accepting and filling these LCBO-branded growlers.

The call for products asks for beers that can be ready for September and October, so it seems like we'll find out very soon if the growler program is the positive next step for craft beer the province is hoping for.

At a minimum the decision to create a beer tasting bar at Summerhill indicates that the LCBO is aware of the surge in craft beer sales in this province, and is ready to respond with a better buying experience for the growing customer base.

What do you think? Are growler fills going to help grow craft beer in this province (or at least Toronto)?

Read more about the program on Ben's Beer Blog.

Photo of an existing LCBO tasting bar via Fiorino Design

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