The recent 3rd annual Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit hosted in Albany by Governor Andrew Cuomo resulted in a wide array of advisories just released by the State Liquor Authority (SLA). All are effective immediately.
(A side note: The addition of the word “cider” to the title of the summit shows how much of an impact that particular beverage is making on the state’s industry.)
In past summit sessions, Cuomo has used the forum to tout the quality and variety of the state’s adult beverage industry, after which a variety of changes in regulations and programs have been announced that primarily benefitted producers. This time, however, the changes are aimed at helping not only the producers, but consumers at large and non-profit organizations in particular. In the case of the latter, regulations have been massaged to simplify their use of beverages for fundraising events.
The full text of the advisories is available online. Here is an abbreviated version of each of the dozen advisories.
- Contract brewing now is explicitly permitted, thus allowing small breweries to use the facilities of a larger producer to manufacture beer. The intent is to provide additional revenue for established brewers while assisting small brewers entering the market.
- Multiple craft manufacturer “branch offices” will be allowed at the same location. This allows a group of manufacturers to share a location, thus lowering operating costs and providing more retail outlets.
- Sales people will be permitted to represent multiple craft beverage manufacturers. The aim is to increase distribution for small craft producers and provide more opportunities for sales jobs.
- Brewers may purchase beer used in tastings at a retail location from the retailer, increasing the number of tastings conducted and saving manufacturers transportation costs.
- The SLA will issue permits for wineries and farm wineries to operate as “home winemaking” centers, enabling customers to have access to expert advice and utilize the winery’s equipment to produce wine for personal consumption.
- Tastings at wine schools and other alcoholic beverage education classes and seminars will be permitted, with the SLA issuing permits for bonafide schools to conduct tastings as part of their curriculum, introducing consumers to new craft products and supporting research.
- New guidance will allow not-for-profit organizations to conduct fundraising activities in a retail establishment provided the activities are in accordance with state laws and regulations.
- The SLA will create a craft beverage tasting permit for non-profit organizations. That will allow not-for-profits to charge admission at events where manufacturers and wholesalers offer samples and sales of alcoholic beverages.
- Off-premises beer retailers will be permitted to fill orders for growlers at a warehouse, rather than having to conduct the activity at their licensed premises.
- Lower fees will be charged for seasonal additional bars. Restaurant, bar and tavern owners have been allowed to operate one bar in a licensed premise with additional bars costing the equivalent of the original license. Under the change, the SLA will authorize the issuance of pro-rated fee for “add bars” that will enable retailers operating a bar on a seasonal basis — on a patio or deck, for example — to be charged a fee based only on the months the bar will be in operation.
- Out-of-state brew pub owners will be permitted to expand their business in New York, and licensees in the state will be able to consider opportunities in other states.
- The SLA provided guidance for club licensees regarding their ability to serve non-members.