New vocabulary words: howlers and growlers

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As the Mineola City Council considered an amendment to an ordinance pertaining to the sale of beer and wine, downtown business co-owner Jason Herring shared some new vocabulary words with them during a special meeting last Tuesday evening.

Herring, co-owner of CowBurners which opened on May 6 and that sells barbecue and “craft” beer on tap, asked that the city ordinance be brought in line with state law.

City Administrator Mercy Rushing said there were a couple of businesses now that have asked for this alignment of local law with state law. She pointed out that when Mineola voters legalized the sale of beer and wine (for off-premise consumption) and mixed drinks at restaurants in 2011, craft beer wasn’t so popular. But now, that has changed.

That beer is sold on tap and Herring, formerly with a Houston craft brewery, said that customers bring in what are called “growlers, or even a half growler – called a howler,” in which the beverage is dispensed from a tap. His business has a BG license from the state that is, “made for places that only sell beer and wine, and food,” Herring said. “What it allows you to do, since we’re selling craft beer, we’re selling more of a high end type product to people.”

Herring said a growler can be any type of container, but typically is a 64-ounce glass jug with a cap on it that can be sealed. “We carry a lot of things that you can’t find in stores. They can get one of those filled; take it home with them, share it with friends at home and that kind of thing.” The containers, which he likened to old-fashioned whiskey jugs, have a handle and usually have a lid that seals and then a latch to close over that.

He said that there are very few places in East Texas that do this. He said there is one in Longview, another in Nacogdoches and others in Dallas, Houston and Austin.

“We’re not trying to make this a big bar. That’s not our draw. We sold 200 some odd plates of food this weekend. We maybe sold 50 beers.”

Cindy Karch, city secretary and finance director, noted that when the city passed its ordinance, this type of license wasn’t available. In 2013 the state allowed this type of permit and the city has two restaurants wanting to do this now. “We just had to change just a little bit of wording to allow this,” she said.

“What this means is, they don’t have to get the mixed beverage permit. Otherwise, the restaurants have been having to get a mixed beverage permit,” she said, considerably more expensive, which allows them to sell liquor.

Rushing said she had checked and with the vote by Mineola voters, amending the local ordinance would be legal under that. Otherwise, the distributors would be required to obtain the mixed beverage license for liquor or mixed drinks. Those who are interested in the craft beer are not interested in such a type license, she said.

In a previous meeting, Rushing has informed the council that it isn’t illegal to walk around on the sidewalks of downtown carrying a drink in an unmarked container. That is regulated by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, she said. The city could pass an ordinance, if they choose to do so. However, Herring said this is not what he intends to be done with the craft beer sales.

In the meeting the council voted to move the Alcohol Ordinance from the Zoning Ordinance to the Mineola Code of Ordinances.

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