Tag Archives: alcohol regulations

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 11/23/16

In the coming weeks, I have planned to write a piece or two comparing and contrasting the alcohol laws between North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.  I want to see if it is possible to discern how those laws have affected the craft beer industries in each of those states.  I am currently in research mode meaning I’m reading and taking notes on the laws of each state.  Let me tell you that is a ton of uninteresting reading.  Here is a piece from the John Locke Foundation that studies this very thing.

If you are in North Carolina and are into craft beer you may know that there is a battle going on over how much a brewer should be allowed to distribute before legally having to go with a distributor.  Currently, that number is at 25,000 barrels.  That is a lot of beer and until recently no brewers in NC came close to that amount.  However, there are around 3 brewers who could sell that amount this year if they wanted to or in their eyes allowed to.  They are all independent breweries who self-distribute.

This law is silly and is propped up by the wholesaler/distributor lobby in NC that seeks to protect itself at the expense of common sense.  This paper argues successfully that this is one of many in the laws that regulate the manufacture, sale, and use of alcohol in North Carolina that are silly and against all common sense.

When you look at these laws, the only people they protect are the people who distribute alcohol in this state and that includes the state-run monopoly on liquor, which makes it one of eight states with this peculiar law.

Back to the self-distribution fight in North Carolina.  It doesn’t matter what the wholesalers say (including making specious health and safety claims) they don’t want brewers to be able to distribute more of their beer because the wholesalers don’t want to lose the money they get from distribution.  I think they would lose contracts and money if brewers could distribute more of their own beer.  However, it wouldn’t be as much as they seem to fear.

Why, distributing beer is hard and expensive.  Small brewers and brewers who only want to distribute in a finite area put up with it because it is easier and cheaper to DIY it then to pay a distributor.  However, at a certain point, a brewer is running two companies: a brewery and a distributorship.  Most breweries won’t want that.

As a quick aside, another battle brewers should fight is to change the nature of the distribution contracts. The way the contracts work is all in favor of the distributor, particularly when the brewer is small.  One tactic brewers in North Carolina could take is to make a deal on the distribution cap while getting concessions to equalize the power in distribution contracts.

I will say breweries also make specious arguments in calling for more freedom to self-distribute.  One that makes me laugh is a certain brewery swears that going with a distributor would ruin their ability to create wonderful season beers.  That is a load of crap because there are other factors that currently keep this brewery from doing more seasonal beers and none of those have to do with who is distributing their beer.

Look for more from on this subject in the next month or so.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 4/25/16

Sorry, I’ve been absent again, but working 12-14 hours a day, on your feet, for 4 days in a row takes its toll and I really needed to sleep.  Anyway, there are three blog posts coming in the next 2 weeks.  One of which will probably be a multipart post because it is a big subject I am going to try and tackle.  The other are a continuation of my fascination and exploration of creativity and a fundamental question about everything I’m writing about on this blog.

  • Many if not most states in the union are in the midst of changing many of their alcohol laws. Most of these laws are left over from Prohibition and some even date back to when the country was still a group of colonies. Most of these changes are slapdash and piecemeal. Look at how most of the laws concerning growlers are not part of a larger look at beer is sold in a state, but just a law to fulfill a niche in a market.  New York is the first one that I’ve noticed take a hard and systematic look at its laws and how they should be changed.
  • Here is another case of brewers wanting to change the law specific to brewers. You know what would be great? If this state’s brewer guild took a few months and came up with a list of 5-10 legislative items and presented them to sympathetic state legislators telling them that if you can pass most if not all of these laws, we can guarantee a strong business segment that will generate tax revenue.  I’m just kind of tired of reading stories about brewers upset that they can’t sell growlers or sell beer in their taprooms.  These are all part of the same problem. Of course, a legislator in Oklahoma is trying to do that and she keeps getting hit in the face with 2x4s from self-interested lobbyists.
  • How much is too much when giving incentives to businesses to move to your state? That is a question NC has been trying to answer for years now in all business segments, not just beer.  I became interested in this topic a few years ago when a few professional sports teams moved because they couldn’t convince the cities and states they were in to pay to build them a new stadium.  Basically, the owners want cities and states to put up all the money for construction and infrastructure for a stadium the teams would control, including all the profits from ticket sales, parking, concessions, etc.  They would spout off about all these pie in the sky jobs created by the stadium, which had no basis in any economic fact, and hold cities ransom.  So, I have mixed feelings about states and municipalities giving away too many incentives for any business.  I think luring businesses with tax breaks is great up until the point where the municipality is no longer making money off the venture.
  • Here is look at the alcohol industry in Michigan. It is interesting to think about craft beer as a part of a larger craft alcohol business segment.  Again, instead of just trying to get growler and crowlers legal or getting the state to allow sales in brewery taprooms, it may help to position these things as part of a larger business segment that can have good tax revenue implications.
  • You know, I’ve felt like a character on Game of Thrones who goes around telling anyone who will listen, “Winter is coming.” I’ve been reading articles for almost 2 years now telling us that a hop shortage is coming and I’ve been writing about those articles in this space.  Yet, the craft beer world, by which I mean craft beer drinkers have been going along like this bounty of hoppy beer will continue without end. Here is another article explaining what is and what will probably happen.  What will probably happen? The price of your favorite double IPA is about to go up in the next few months if stays available at all.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 4/17/16

I love beer (I have a blog dedicated to it so that seems rather obvious).  Outside of the beer, there are a couple of things surrounding craft beer that really interest me. One is the idea of brewing as a creative art that should be critiqued and studied as such (I’m working on a couple of bigger pieces that explores this).  Two is the confluence of beer with business and law.  The second interests me because alcohol has such an interesting place in society and its perception is so different across different parts of this society.  Among other things, with craft beer you can look at how governments treat business and how the treatment of drinking culture changes from generation and socio-economic strata.  Anyway, here is a bunch of articles about beer that are more about business and law than actual beer.