Florida liquor sales bill in hands of Scott

The Florida legislature recently voted to allow grocery stores and other retail outlets to sell hard liquor alongside beer and wine, tearing down Florida's so-called "liquor wall." Now, the Florida governor is facing an intense lobbying effort encouraging him to veto the legislation:

"Florida liquor store owners are pleading with Gov. Rick Scott not to allow big chain stores to sell liquor.

Shoppers say it would make their life more convenient, but liquor stores fear they'll go out of business.

Steve Brgouthi has owned a North Fort Myers liquor store for four years. “I can't compete with Wal-Mart.  I can't compete with that big store,” Brgouthi said.

That's exactly what he'll have to do if the governor signs SB 106 that allows chain stores to sell hard liquor. “But us, we’re going to go out of business,” Brgouthi predicted.

Stores like Target support the bill. Now liquor store owners are lobbying the governor to veto the bill passed by the House and Senate..." 

Read more at: http://www.nbc-2.com/story/35296700/liquor-sales-bill-in-hands-of-scott

For previous DrinksReform.org coverage of Florida's liquor wall, see here.


Department of Liquor Control Plans To Approve 'Agency' Liquor Stores by January in Maryland's Montgomery County

Maryland's Montgomery County may finally be making moves to loosen its monopolistic grip on liquor retail stores. Andrew Metcalf reports for Bethesda Magazine:

"More liquor stores could be coming to Montgomery County soon.

Robert Dorfman, director of the county’s Department of Liquor Control, said Thursday he’s looking into establishing criteria so the department can contract with privately owned beer and wine stores to sell spirits such as vodka, rum or whiskey.

A state bill approved by the General Assembly this year gave the county the right to establish “agency” stores to sell liquor and enabled the DLC to determine the criteria by which the department will approve stores to sell spirits. Currently, liquor is only sold at the 27 county-run liquor stores.

The bill was designed to give county residents additional options for buying liquor after liquor industry representatives told legislators that the county was underserved by the existing number of stores when compared to state and nationwide averages..."

Read more at: http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/2017/Department-of-Liquor-Control-Plans-To-Approve-Agency-Liquor-Stores-by-January/

Pennsylvania House approves bill to sell state's liquor wholesale system

One chamber of the Pennsylvania legislature has approved a bill that would begin to transition the state to a privatized wholesaling system for wine and distilled spirits. Now the bill will head to the state senate. Mark Scolforo reports in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"House Republicans have pushed ahead a set of changes to how alcohol is sold in the state, moving to privatize wholesale wine and spirits sales and expand the retail outlets where booze is available.

Lawmakers voted 105-84 on Tuesday in favor of the wholesale divestment proposal, sending it with other proposals to the Senate for its consideration.

The House voted to allow more grocery stores to seek permits to sell wine, no longer restricting the permits to stores with seating capacity, and retailers would be able to buy wine from brokers in the private sector.

“Every day that passes that we’re not able to continue to update our antiquated liquor systems is another day of missed opportunities,” said Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster..."

Read more at: http://www.post-gazette.com/life/drinks/2017/04/26/House-approves-bill-to-sell-state-s-liquor-wholesale-system/stories/201704260137

Bill proposes allowing beer and wine sales before noon on Sunday in Texas

A bill has been introduced in the Texas legislature that would eliminate the state's version of a modified "blue law," allowing beer to be sold before noon on Sundays. Troy Kless has more for KBMT-TV:

"It's fine for anyone 21 or older to buy beer or wine after noon on Sunday. But a Texas lawmaker wants to take away the time restraint.

Emily Elliott, a Lamar Institute of Technology student has worked at a convenience store in Kountze. She's rejected a customer for getting beer too early on Sunday morning.

"They get kind of upset in person when you tell them like, 'Oh you have to wait until 12:00,'” Elliott said.

"They'll always say ‘that's so stupid, I don't understand,’ but that's just a rule they have," Elliott said.

In this year’s state legislative session, House Bill 327 seeks to allow holders of beer and wine off-premise retailers to sell as early as 7:00 a.m..."

Read more: http://www.12newsnow.com/news/local/bill-proposes-allowing-beer-and-wine-sales-before-noon-on-sunday/433580761

Whiskey Trail, Day 5: That other Tennessee whiskey makes for a fitting conclusion to my trip

In his final dispatch for The American Spectator from the American Whiskey Trail, R Street's Kevin Kosar writes about Jack Daniel's lesser known neighbor:

Don’t get me wrong — Jack Daniel’s is a very impressive company. Its sales growth over the past 40 years is mind-boggling. During the 1970 and 1980s, most American whiskeys saw their sales drop. They laid off workers and cut back on capital upgrades.

But not the company that Jasper Newton Daniel started 150 years ago. It went gangbusters, helped in no small part by celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Michael Anthony of Van Halen, who guzzled it onstage. (Anthony even had an Old No. 7 electric guitar made.)...

Yet, I long have had a very soft spot in my heart for George Dickel, which is sometimes called “that other Tennessee whiskey.” Way back in 2001, I decided to do a side-by-side tasting of Daniel’s and Dickel. I sure liked Jack Daniels No. 7, which was 86 proof back then. (It’s 80 proof now.) I liked George Dickel No. 12 a lot more.

The George Dickel distillery is a mere seven miles from its hulking Lynchburg neighbor, but it feels a world apart. It is tucked in Cascade Hollow in Tullahoma, where cellphone coverage is spotty at best. Whereas 300,000 tourists flock to Jack Daniel’s annually, Dickel’s parking lot has room for maybe 20 cars...

Read the rest: http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/american-whiskey-trail-tour-day-five/

Maryland Beer Bill Postmortem: The Aftermath of Maryland HB 1283

As previously noted on DrinksReform.org, Maryland passed a controversial bill that places a variety of restrictions on brewery taprooms and other brewery operations. DCBeer.com's Greg Parnas has a post up taking an in-depth look at the pros and cons of the bill and what's next for Maryland beer:

"As DCBeer covered last month, this year's Maryland legislative session saw the introduction of several bills that would significantly change brewery regulations in the state. Unfortunately for the craft beer industry, the bill that wound up unanimously passing the House was HB 1283. In its original format, the bill would have limited tap room hours, harmed the practice of contract brewing, made collaborations more difficult, and allowed counties to have far more control in determining whether a brewery would be allowed to conduct on-premise sales at all. After its surprise passage in the House, the bill moved to the Senate, where the Brewers Association of Maryland (BAM) was able to rally its members and alter some of the more objectionable parts of HB 1283. For a good play-by-play breakdown of the legislative fight, take a look at Naptown Pint's coverage.

Thanks to the large number of phone calls from constituents like you, the lobbying efforts of BAM, and pushback from Comptroller Peter Franchot and Governor Larry Hogan; the Senate passed amendments that altered the original House bill considerably. Kevin Atticks, executive director of BAM, made it clear that the breweries were not happy with the bill, but 'we realized that the legislation was going to pass in some form because it was the vehicle to bring Guinness into Maryland, so we moved forward to attempt to amend it.'"...

The whole thing is well worth your time: http://www.dcbeer.com/news/aftermath-maryland-hb-1283

Previous coverage of the Maryland beer beer on DrinksReform.org can be found here, here, and here.

Whiskey Trail, Day 4: Whiskey distilleries become vacation destinations

R Street's Kevin Kosar's latest dispatch for The American Spectator from the American Whiskey Trail is about how distilleries are increasingly becoming tourist destinations:

Thirty years ago, most whiskey distilleries were lonely places — industrial factories in remote rural areas. For the most part, the proprietors of these places saw themselves as manufacturers, the first tier in the three-tier system. They made whiskey, which was then trucked away. Customers were far removed.

Some, but not many, folks might drop by for a look around. “If we had 100 people come in a year, we were lucky,” says Eddie Russell, master distiller at Wild Turkey. When folks showed up on the Lawrenceburg, Kentucky property, whoever was around the office would give them a tour of the property. Wild Turkey built a small visitor’s center in 1987. “Maybe 3,000 or 4,000 people a year would visited in those days,” says Russell.

Oh, how times have changed. Bourbon distilleries have become tourist destinations. Wild Turkey expects at least 85,000 bourbon tourists this year. Its gorgeous new visitor center — which looks like a cross between a tobacco barn and a glass box—is 5,000 square feet. It opened in 2013, and features a gift shop, a history center and a tasting room that overlooks a valley through which the Kentucky River runs...

Read the whole thing: http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/american-whiskey-trail-tour-day-four/

Will the US’s three-tier distribution system survive?

Despite evidence that there may be cracks forming in its foundation, the three-tiered alcohol distribution system continues to control the American booze market. Tom Bruce-Gardyne takes a look at the post-Prohibition relic for The Spirits Business:

"True to its name, the United States is an amalgam, especially in matters of alcohol. “Every state is different,” says Dave Wilson, president of Patrón Spirits International, “and so at times it feels almost like we’re managing 50 different countries within the US.” These differences were enshrined in 1933 in the 21st Amendment that ended Prohibition. Since then, booze has been almost entirely regulated and taxed by individual states, with everything from dry counties like Moore County, the home of Jack Daniel’s, to the drive-by Daiquiri stands of Louisiana.

Prohibition also spawned America’s notorious three-tier distribution system whereby every bottle passes from distiller or importer to distributor or wholesaler to retailer or bar owner. Writing in the Washington Monthly in 2012, Tim Heffernan summed up the motives behind it: “By deliberating hindering economies of scale and protecting middlemen in the booze business… [it] was designed to be wilfully inefficient.” It was also meant to prevent UK-style vertical integration such as brewery-owned pubs, although cracks are beginning to appear..."

Read more at: https://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2017/04/is-the-uss-three-tier-distribution-system-built-to-survive/

Texas Lawmakers Seek to Limit Brewery Taprooms

Industry observers predict that the next "Cold War" in beer politics will be brewery taprooms that allow brewers to sell beer straight to consumers. Right on cue, Texas is considering a law that would curtail taprooms. Justin Kendall reports for Brewbound

"Everything is supposedly bigger in Texas, but the state’s lawmakers are considering legislation that would prevent large beer companies from operating taprooms in the state.

House Bill 3287 (and sister bill SB 2083), backed by the state’s wholesalers, would significantly alter a Texas law that currently gives beer manufacturers who produce less than 225,000 barrels of beer annually the right to sell as much as 5,000 barrels directly to consumers via their taprooms, according to Austin 360.

According to the outlet, the proposed language change would count production occurring at facilities “owned directly or indirectly by the license holder or an affiliate or subsidiary” toward the 225,000-barrel limit, meaning several breweries would have to shutter their taprooms.

Those affected would include: The Austin outpost for Oskar Blues, which has several brewery and taproom locations in Colorado and North Carolina; MillerCoors-owned Revolver in Dallas-Fort Worth; Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Karbach Brewing in Houston; and potentially Independence Brewing, which received an investment from Lagunitas (itself owned 50 percent by Heineken International) last summer..."

Read more at: https://www.brewbound.com/news/legislative-update-texas-lawmakers-tackles-taprooms-north-carolina-caves-cap-increase

Senate committee in Alabama legislature approves home wine delivery bill

Legislation allowing direct-to-consumer wine shipments is on the move in the Alabama state senate. Brian Lyman reports the story for the Montgomery Advertiser:

"A Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill that would allow Alabamians to have wine shipped directly to their homes.

The Senate Financial Responsibility and Economic Development Committee approved the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, on a 6 to 4 vote. The bill goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Under the legislation, people over the age of 21 in Alabama could have up to 24 cases of wine shipped to their doors each year. Shippers would need to obtain licenses from the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board, and out-of-state shippers would have to pay all applicable taxes on the alcohol..."

Read more at: http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/politics/southunionstreet/2017/04/19/senate-committee-approves-home-wine-delivery-bill/100671028/