Whiskey Delivery Club


An Iowa Man has recently launched a unique and innovative alcohol subscription service, as reported by the Des Moines Register. His business is now expansive, as he tries to figure out how to overcome complicated and varying state liquor laws:

Club members pay $129 every 60 days for a box containing a 750 millimeter of whiskey from a featured distiller and some whiskey accessories, such as a glass and information about the whiskey-maker, Strable said.

“You can’t just go to (a grocery store) and get these bottles,” he said. The whiskey is generally from small-batch distillers with interesting stories and tasty products, he said.

Rackhouse now boasts customers in 17 states. New subscribers are joining all the time, he said.

An initial stumbling block was the multitude of state liquor laws that he had to work through to sell his whiskey boxes. He recently hired a Las Vegas-based fulfillment company that now takes care of that.

Read the entire article here.

Bringing out-of-state alcohol into Iowa could make you a criminal


It may seem hard to believe, but if you are an Iowa resident who hops across state lines to visit a Minnesota brewery and returns with a growler, you are technically a criminal under Iowa law. Perhaps most bizarre of all, the law does not apply to distilled spirits (just beer and wine). A recent editorial by The Des Moines Register explains:

"In Iowa, you could be a bootlegger and not even know it.vIf you bring back a couple of bottles of zinfandel from a California winery, or even from an Omaha supermarket, you may be committing a serious misdemeanor.

If you vacation in Wisconsin and return with a case of New Glarus Brewing’s Spotted Cow ale — popular but sold only in that state — you could end up, theoretically, in the hoosegow.vBut if you import four liters of tequila from your trip to Mexico? No problem.  

Such is the bizarre state of Iowa’s alcohol laws. Last week, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division sent out an education bulletin clarifying that “only alcoholic liquor can be personally imported” — up to one liter from another state or four liters from another country.   

But beer and wine, even if it’s consumed only in your home? No, according to the division’s interpretation.

Beer and wine are not expressly mentioned in the law on importation and do not fit the definition of liquor, said Stephanie Strauss with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. She said the division sent out the bulletin because it has received questions about the law, including from returning members of the military.

A serious misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of between $315 and $1,875."

Read the rest of the editorial here.



Iowa is Cracking Down on Copper Moscow Mule Mugs, But Are They Really Dangerous?


Moscow Mules may be delicious, but are they also hurting you? Iowa made waves recently when it's Alcoholic Beverage Division issued an advisory bulletin warning restaurants in the state that they were prohibited from serving the popular Moscow Mule cocktail in solid copper mugs. The reason? Copper poisoning, which the officials said could leak out from copper mugs when they came into contact with acidic liquids (like those found in Moscow Mules). 

But scientists are pushing back, arguing that Iowa's claims were overwrought, as noted by The Daily Beast:

[D]on’t throw out your mugs just yet! Chances are, they’re lined with food-safe tin or nickel. And even if they’re not, the science linking Moscow Mules to copper poisoning is fuzzy at best.

'If you have an acidic pH, some [copper] can leach off. Possibly,' says Svetlana Lutsenko, Ph.D., a professor at Johns Hopkins University and a researcher focusing on the mechanisms that regulate copper concentration in the human body. 'This all needs to be tested because without facts we do not know whether it is a problem or not,' she says...

Bonnie Ransom Stern, Ph.D., a Washington, D.C.-based consultant on health sciences and risk assessment, also notes that some of the symptoms the recent news articles have warned against are overblown. Yes, going into a coma can be one of the syptoms of copper poisoning, but that typically occurs only in people attempting to commit suicide by drinking liters of copper solution, she explains. 'Experiments where copper was added to drinking water found that around 6 mg. in a liter starts to induce adverse affects in some people,' says Stern. 'Unless you let the drink sit for hours, it’s unlikely to reach that level.'..."

Read the rest here

At the end of the article, when asked if they would drink Moscow Mules out of a solid copper mug, the scientists interviewed by The Daily Beast responded with a resounding yes.



Cheers: Legislature approves drinks by the glass at Iowa craft distilleries

Iowa's legislature has approved a bill that will allow craft distilleries in the state to mix cocktails for on-premise visitors. This equalizes how distilleries are treated in the state compared to breweries and wineries, which were already allowed to serve drinks on-site. Incidentally, many other states also have these types of restrictions on distilleries (including Virginia, as R Street's Jarrett Dieterle has previously written about).

Brianne Pfannenstiel and William Petroski have more on Iowa's reforms for the Des Moines Register:

"A bill allowing Iowa's craft liquor distillers to mix cocktails at their manufacturing facilities gained final legislative approval Monday, with both Democrats and Republicans praising the bill as a good step for economic development.

The issue has been under discussion in the Legislature for years as distillers tried and failed to advance legislation they say puts them on a level playing field with Iowa's craft breweries and wineries, which already are able to open lounges and tasting rooms where patrons can buy a glass of beer or wine made on-site...."

Read the whole thing:

It’s time to update Iowa’s alcohol laws

Iowa's Alcoholic Beverages Division administrator co-authored an op-ed in the Des Moines Register on updating the state's alcohol laws:

"For many years, Iowa’s alcohol laws have, essentially, been static. The few revisions that have occurred have been to accommodate changes in the industry such as native wineries and breweries. As the pace of change within the industry accelerated over the past decades, these somewhat ad hoc solutions continued, leaving our state with a patchwork of exceptions that have created confusion and regulatory uncertainty.

In an effort to address this condition and at the request of Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds, we convened a 15-member group of stakeholders in September 2016 to study Iowa’s alcohol laws to determine what changes could be suggested for legislative consideration...

[T]he recommendations presented to the governor and lieutenant governor were centered on the disparity that continues in the alcohol manufacturing world and are part of HF 607, which has passed a vote by the House of Representatives and is heading to the Senate for consideration.

Key provisions in HF 607 include allowing native distilleries to sell their products by the glass to customers at their facilities and to sell nine bottles of their making per person (they are now limited to two bottles). The bill also eliminates the requirement for brewpubs to route the beer they pour into growlers through a wholesale distributor, saving time and hassle for both the brewpub and the wholesaler. Additionally, HF 607 allows breweries to serve wine by the glass at their tap rooms, a reciprocal privilege based on the fact that the Legislature had carved out an exception in 2009 that allowed wineries to serve beer..."

Read more at:



Alcohol changes advance as wholesalers, distillers reach compromise

Brianne Pfannenstiel of The Des Moines Register reports:

"Many of Iowa's craft liquor distillers would be able to mix cocktails and pour drinks for their patrons under a bill advancing in the Iowa House of Representatives.
"Garrett Burchett, owner of Mississippi River Distillery in Le Claire, said the legislation marks a significant compromise between distilleries and the Iowa Wholesale Beer Distributors Association, which have remained at odds for years over whether to allow drinks by the glass at local distilleries...."