Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature not only restored a per-gallon tax exemption eliminated by a lawsuit from a rival Massachusetts brewer, but New York is increasing its bet on an industry that’s flourishing despite a slow overall economic recovery. The package of laws announced Wednesday will even allow farmers to sell craft beer at farmers’ markets.
Fight over. You may now go about your business.
Until last week, Alabama was the only state that had a restriction on the container size the beer could be sold in. Thanks to lobbying from groups like Free The Hops, Alabama has more freedom to beers with higher ABV, but also in larger containers. Here is brief video of the path to this legislative success.
A new bill has just passed in Idaho. Lawmakers have passed a plan that will lift longstanding restrictions on investing in more than one company that brews beer. New jobs can now be generated, as brewers that produced less than 30,000 barrels of beer per year can expand. The measure passed 58-5. [OPB.org]
The bills are:
Senate Bill 2878 – Allows the alcohol by weight to be raised from 5% to 8%.
Senate Bill 2370 – Allows beer with greater than 5 percent alcohol by weight to be brewed. The beer could also be sold over Mississippi state lines.
Senate Bill 2600 – Allows breweries to provide samples of the beer.
Raise Your Pints is doing a lot of great work to help push through the barriers of Mississippi’s pretty strict alcohol laws. Sadly, the home brewing beer (to legally allow home brewing in the state) died in committee recently.
House Bill 1054 Amendment #3 a.k.a. the Three Floyds Amendment (the second one bearing our name), unanimously passed out of committee yesterday. If the bill is adopted by the House and Senate, it will raise the ceiling of how much beer a brewery in Indiana can produce and sell in state to 30,000 bbls. Good news for us and our Craft brewing compatriots.
The United States District Court of Texas has ruled in favor of Jester King Brewing, and their 2 co-plaintiffs – Authentic Beverage Company and Zax Restaurant & Bar, filed against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
It was a 1st Amendment challenge – stating that labels in Texas have to have special labeling. Now, beer may be labeled as “beer” and “ale” as ale. TABC also prohibited breweries in the state from telling people where to buy the beer. Now Jester King can add a “Where To Buy” section to their website.
“In a remarkable (though logically dubious) demonstration of circular reasoning” Judge Sparks writes in his ruling, “TABC attempts to defend the constitutional legitimacy of the Code through an appeal to the statutory authority of the Code itself.” Referring to the required use of the terms “beer”, “ale”, and “malt liquor”, he writes “TABC’s argument, combined with artful legislative drafting, could be used to justify any restrictions on commercial speech. For instance, Texas would likely face no (legal) obstacle if it wished to pass a law defining the word ‘milk’ to mean ‘a nocturnal flying mammal that eats insects and employs echolocation.’ Under TABC’s logic, Texas would then be authorized to prohibit use of the word ‘milk’ by producers of a certain liquid dairy product, but also to require Austin promoters to advertise the famous annual ‘Milk Festival’ on the Congress Avenue Bridge.’”
The judge did not rule on the on TABC’s treatment of Texas brewpubs and breweries. Jester King (among others) claim that the TABC v
We were disappointed, but not too surprised, that Judge Sparks ruled against our claims that Texas’s disparate treatment of breweries and brewpubs:
…violated the Equal Protection Clause and that its treatment of foreign breweries violated both the Equal Protection Clause and the Commerce Clause. The TABC never gave any reason why Texas should be able to prohibit craft brewers from selling beer to customers on-site, while allowing wineries to do so, or why Texas should be able to favor foreign wineries over foreign breweries, and Judge Sparks did not speculate on why that might be. But the legal standards are different and more demanding for challenges brought under the Equal Protection Clause than the First Amendment, and we were unable to persuade Judge Sparks to strike down these discriminatory laws. We were encouraged, however, by Judge Sparks’s observation that “The State of Texas is lucky the burden of proof was on [the Plaintiffs] for many of its claims, or else the Alcoholic Beverage Code might have fared even worse than it has.”
A huge step forward for not only Jester King, but all breweries in the State Of Texas. Jester King will continue to push more “freeing” legislation during the 2013 session.
Jester King Craft Brewery (Austin, TX) has filed suit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). The lawsuit states the the TABC code violates their 1st & 14 Constitutional Amendments. I tried to simplify what is going down in Te-has…
1st Amendment: Free Speech
14th Amendment: For this issue: Equal Protection Clause.
Jester King is legally NOT allowed to tell the beer drinking public where the beer is sold. Essentially, you can’t ask the brewery where they can get a bottle of _______. In more legal-ease code crap, have you ever seen beer labels in Texas, or special beer labels FOR Texas? They have to say things like – malt liquor (under 4% ABW) , or Ale (Over 5% ABW).
This results in nonsensical and somewhat comical situations where we have to call pale ale at or below 4% ABW “pale beer” and lager that is over 4% ABW “ale”. The State has arrogantly and autocratically cast aside centuries of rich brewing tradition by taking it upon itself to redefine terms that reference flavor and production method as a simple shorthand for alcoholic strength.
Furthermore, terminology like – “Strong” or “low alcohol.” I.E. No Belgian Strong Ale, American Strong Ale etc. ILLEGAL!
We are not allowed to put the alcoholic content on anything the State considers advertising, which includes our website and social media. We are simply seeking to exercise free and truthful speech about the beer we make and strongly believe that the State has no interest in keeping you from knowing the type of beer we make, how strong it is, or where it is sold.
Jester King believes their 14th Amendment rights have been violated because they are unable to sell beer at the brewery, only retailers. They maintain they should be able to sell directly to the public. Brewpubs in Texas find themselves at the other end of the issue.
We are suing because the State has no rational interest in maintaining special restrictions aimed at limiting the sale of beer.
Any brewery not based in Texas must obtain a special license to sell in the state. Wineries are distilleries do not have to do this. This makes it harder and financially cumbersome to small craft brewers. Basically, not fair across the board.
We have chosen to pursue these matters in federal court after witnessing the lack of progress that has resulted from previous attempts to address the inequities of the TABC Code legislatively. During the last legislative session, there were bills aimed at giving breweries and brewpubs similar rights to Texas wineries, but these bills never even made it out of committee.
Fight the power. [PressRelease]