Sunoco To Roll Out More Beer-Filling Stations

Drive-through liquor stores have been around in various parts of the country for some time, but it’s not every day that you pull into a gas station to actually fill up some empty bottles with beer. But that may change as Sunoco looks to roll out its Craft Beer Exchange stations.

The Craft Beer Exchange allows customers to fill up either 64-oz. growlers or 6-packs of 12-oz. bottles from a rotating selection of about a dozen brews, including some from brands like Allagash, Abita, Dogfish Head, and Victory.

Sunoco says the Exchanges have been a hit since debuting in a handful of APlus convenience stores in New York state. So it has decided to expand the program to South Carolina.

There are more than 600 APlus stores operated by Sunoco in 24 states, so the company has a lot of room to expand. However, some states’ liquor laws would currently prevent Sunoco from selling beer in any form.

Sunoco Gives Customers a Reason to Look Forward to Filling Up [CNBC]

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  1. LanMan04 says:

    Wait wait wait…this is a contamination disaster waiting to happen.

    Do you bring your own empty bottles, and then thing fills and caps them? Does it wash the bottles before filling them?

    • BfloAnonChick says:

      They fill growlers. You can bring your own for filling, or they sell them to you. I live in one of the markets where this was first rolled out, and for the first few weeks, you could get a growler for something like $1.

    • DJ Charlie says:

      The obvious answer: They’ll be getting the containers and lids from the soft drink station.

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      Just about all places that offer to fill growlers will fill growlers that the customer brings in. Customers can sometimes buy their own growler on site for anywhere between $5 to $20 depending on where you buy it an what type you buy (some places sell very fancy growlers).

      Usually whoever is filling the growler offers to clean it out before filling using the same sanitizer that is used on the glassware at bars. There’s not much of a contamination issue on the store’s end of things. Customers would have to be sure their glassware is kept fairly clean between fillings, but a good rinse in hot water and then a bit of sanitizer does the trick. I don’t use soap to clean my growler out b/c it can leave behind a film that messes up head retention.

    • longdvsn says:

      The picture looks like there is a wash station on the right hand side. In particular, note the upward pointed nozzle (jet washer) for bottles. I’m sure all that is really needed is a really hot water blast to the inside of the bottles or growler – but perhaps there’s a sanitizing solution available there.

      Regardless, there isn’t any additional fermentation occurring at this stage (and the beer is likely filtered before it’s served here) – so the risk of contamination is actually quite small and essentially nonexistent if even small sanitary steps are taken. Growlers and bottles served in this fashion are meant to be consumed within a few days of dispensing.

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      My boyfriend and I collect growlers (currently we have 61) and get them filled at local breweries. It is on us to clean the growlers and to ensure they are in good shape. We saw the beer exchanges for the first time in SC and thought it was a cool idea, but at all of the exchanges we saw someone manned them for the public, the public didn’t pull their own beer. The question I would have is that if the public does pull their own beer, how much beer gets wasted as filling a growler (A) is somewhat of a skill and (B) wastes a little beer no matter what.

      Overall, I think it’s a cool idea and caters to us beer geeks. But I still like going to my local brewery to get my growlers filled. (Not all at once).

  2. darklighter says:

    That’s pretty awesome. Unfortunately I live in California, where the law still requires you to have a different growler for every brewery and growlers must be filled by the brewer.

  3. Taliskan says:

    There is one right across the street from me that I never knew existed. I’ll have to try this out now…

  4. speaky2k says:

    Well, looks like another thing that could be great if I could get it here, but since PA is so difficult with their alcohol laws I will have to make a road trip or two to see this.

  5. Sarahlara says:

    Our Whole Foods Markets have good local selections they’ll put in your growler, but I’d try this too if it were available here.

    • BfloAnonChick says:

      Speaking as someone in one of the test markets for Sunoco, I have to say they did a really good job of bringing in a mix of local brewers along with the better known national independent brewers.

  6. lagotech says:

    Bring these to Austin, Please!

  7. gman863 says:

    I predict this will make its way into either an episode of The Simpsons or Family Guy within a year – something involving either Homer or Peter guzzling directly from the machine.

  8. mistyfire says:

    Question for those that have these…how is age verified?

  9. Nic715 says:

    They’ve been showing up at the Sunoco’s around Syracuse recently. I’ve seen 2 so far, but I think there’s more. I haven’t checked them out personally, as I’m not a fan of craft beers but some of my friends have used them and have been pleased.

  10. Coffee says:

    O_O

    I need this, Washington. I can’t buy liquor at Safeway, you bastard. Why don’t you do me a solid, just this once?

    • Arctic Snowbot says:

      Washington State? Starting June 1st, you’ll be able to buy liquor at any store larger than 10,000 square feet. This also does away with state run liquor stores and their ridiculous closing hours of 7pm.