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March 14, 2014

N.H. lawmakers may OK draft beer to go

Senate bill would permit sale of sealed growlers

Beer lovers who want a draft beer outside a bar or restaurant might soon be able to get one to go.

The state Senate is considering a bill that would allow them to take out a growler of their favorite draft brew.

If passed by the full Legislature, Senate Bill 257 would permits bars, restaurants and stores to sell draft beer to go, as long as the container is sealed.

But an amendment yesterday would prohibit the growlers from being sold at restaurants and bars. The Senate is expected to vote on the amendment March 27.

The Senate tabled the bill yesterday and will take it up again later this month.

The delay was prompted by concerns from the hospitality industry that public safety could be jeopardized if patrons were allowed to walk out with containers of beer, co-sponsor Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry.

It’s those same public safety concerns that make some local establishment owners hesitant to support the proposal, including Andy Day, owner of Cask and Vine in Derry.

Day said it’s a unique concept that would please customers and increase business.

“I know people who have joked that they would love to take home some of the beers we have here,” Day said.

Those are beers he offers on tap that are not commonly found on store shelves.

But, Day said, he would be concerned about liability and those who chose to drink the beer while driving home, putting themselves and others at risk.

Mike Cook, manager of Whippersnappers restaurant in Londonderry, agreed the bill seems like a good idea, giving patrons a chance to take home a growler of their favorite draft beer.

He’s also concerned about public safety and a restaurant being held liable.

“If they take a beer and drink it in the car, we are still responsible,” Cook said. “I’m kind of torn about that.”

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