Cuvee Coffee expects to begin informal meetings in the next week or two to bring crowlers back to the East Austin coffee bar.
A crowler is a 32-ounce aluminum can the Cuvee Coffee team was filling on-demand with coffee, beer or other beverage offerings, owner Mike McKim said. On Sept. 29, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers seized the crowler cans, lids, labels and the crowler machine from the 2000 E. Sixth St. location after a month of undercover investigations.
"One of the main reasons we're choosing to follow this through to the end is because we're completely, 100-percent convicted that they got this wrong," McKim said. "It doesn't make sense you can fill a glass growler ... but not an aluminum growler."
A late September news release from TABC stated Cuvee Coffee was illegally canning beer without the proper permit.
"Cuvee Coffee was one of a handful of Texas retailers illegally filling, sealing and selling beer in aluminum cans, also called 'crowlers.' Under current state law, only businesses with a permit to manufacture or brew beer, ale or malt liquor on-site may can their products for resale," according to the news release.
Cuvee Coffee owner Mike McKim with one of the crowlers the business hopes to bring back for customers.[/caption]
McKim said he thought Austin would embrace crowlers as an environmentally friendly alternative to glass growlers because the aluminum cans are recyclable. The crowler cans cannot be used more than once and cannot be resealed once opened, he said.
Cuvee Coffee received a written warning on June 25, according to the news release.
The business's attorney Angel Tomasino said they received a citation Sept. 29 and a formal letter of notice Oct. 29 that outlined two violations alleging the business was manufacturing beer without a permit and possessing equipment that could make beer. McKim said they are not doing either of those things.
"Our stance is that's a misinterpretation and they've kind of crafted a rule out of sections of the beverage code which we just disagree with. It's not anything the legislature [told them to enforce]," Tomasino said.
McKim said TABC will ideally decide they misinterpreted the regulations and will allow Cuvee Coffee's crowler operation to continue without a fine. However, based on talks with TABC so far, McKim said he does not think that will occur.
The next step would be to send the case going to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for a formal hearing in front of a judge.
"We wouldn't be adamant about contesting their interpretation of the rule if we didn't think we were correct," Tomasino said.
Beer is not Cuvee Coffee's livelihood, but McKim said not being able to fill crowlers with beer would be a loss for the business.
"It would be a substantial revenue stream loss," McKim said. "But we won't go out of business [because of it]."