CCBA Bill Passes!

The CCBA sponsored bill, AB 647 (Chesbro) has passed the legislature and moves on to the Governor’s desk for signature. The Governor is expected to sign it.

There has been some confusion in the media about exactly what this bill changes. Some stories have been published which imply that this bill will allow breweries to refill growlers from another brewery. As you know, growler refills are already allowed.

Please take just a moment to read the following.

AB 647 makes three changes to the ABC B&P code:

1)      The CCBA supports current labeling law that requires a brewery to “obscure” information from another brewery on a container before refilling and selling it. We believe it is important that when a consumer takes home a container of beer, that the container (growler, bottle or keg) be accurately labeled with the name of the brewery and the beer inside the container. In some cases, breweries were simply putting a growler into a brown paper bag to “obscure the previous label” and then putting their label on the bag. When the consumer walked out the door, they would often take the growler out of the bag, and the growler was now improperly labeled. The growler was labeled as Brewery A, but had beer in it from Brewery B. If you were Brewery A, you now had your growler with beer in it from another brewery. The ABC had no way to enforce this under current statute. AB 647 adds simple language which states that the previous label must be completely obscured in a manner “not readily removable by the consumer…” Additionally, some breweries were obscuring the name of the previous brewery but not the logo. AB 647 adds that “any information concerning any beer previously packaged in the container, including the information regarding the manufacturer and bottler of such beer, or any associated trademarks must be removed, or completely obscured.” Please read the CCBA Growler Clarification for complete details and best practices on growler refills.

2)      AB 647 also amends the definition of beer manufacturer in a way to protect the authenticity of our industry. In the recent past, there have been type 23 licenses issued to breweries that do not actually brew any beer. They were taking advantage of the many privileges of the license such as operating a tasting room, self-distribution and retail sales but not making any beer at the licensed premise. AB 647 adds language that a beer manufacturer must have facilities and equipment for the manufacturer of beer.” In consultation with the ABC, this language will allow the ABC to revoke a license if the license holder does not have a brewery at the licensed premise.

3)      Finally, AB 647 addresses the problem of our regional guilds not being able to sample each other’s beers at meetings held at a brewery. Current law only allows a beer manufacturer to provide samples of beer brewed under that license. In other words, if a guild meeting is held at a brewery, guild members cannot bring their beers onto the premise and share samples with each other. Even if the meeting is held in a private room! Last fall, a host brewery was issued a warning after holding a guild meeting in which guild members brought their beers for each other to sample. This bill will change the law to allow this practice. The bill states that samples from a licensed brewery may be served and sampled “to attendees at a meeting of a bona fide beer manufacturer trade association or brewers’ guild held on the premises of a licensed beer manufacturer.” Yay!

This bill may seem simple in nature, but to appease the concerns of certain industry stakeholders, it took many, many hours of detailed work. It was also written in close consultation with the ABC to ensure it will meet the Department’s enforcement standards.

If the Governor signs the bill as expected, the bill will become law on January 1st, 2014.

I would like to personally thank each of you for your membership support. Without your membership support, these types of efforts would not be possible.