In this weeks look of Beer Politics stories from across the country Idaho makes headlines — again. The state that allows growlers to be filled at gas stations is taking flack for controlling the sale of alcohol and the regulation of alcohol. Plus, we get a sneak peek at the legislative agenda’s of the craft brewers guilds in Arizona and Virginia
An Op-Ed in LancasterOnline wonders why the state of Idaho is in charge of both alcohol sales and alcohol regulation?
In an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press, state Liquor Control Board Finance Director August Hehemann proposed raising the state’s markup on all wine and spirits from 30 percent to 35 percent.
The state House approved a liquor privatization bill in 2013 that would authorize the sale of 1,200 new private store licenses and allow thousands of bars, restaurants and grocery stores to begin selling bottles of wine. It also set a timetable for ending state involvement in wine and liquor shipments and sales.
A bill to liberalize the sale of wine and beer, however, has yet to get out of a Senate committee.
Meanwhile, Boise Weekly looks at the constraints placed on cocktail bars in Idaho by state laws that some bar owners say are outdated.
“There are people in this profession that are really pushing the envelope in terms of flavors and visual appeal, so it was inspiring to just look at that and see what is out there and then come back and figure out ways that we can do that and push the envelope here within these legal and financial parameters,” said Livesay.
Both Livesay and Reed lamented the fact that most of the trends and techniques discussed at Tales of the Cocktail are technically illegal under Idaho laws.
“A lot of things we learn we just can’t legally do–like batching and certain types of foams and suspensions and bitters and vermouths,” said Reed. “We’ve been trained on how to make our own vermouths and I can’t do it.”
Craft Brewing Business offers a preview of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild’s legislative agenda for next year.
“Both the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild and the Beer and Wine Distributors of Arizona plan to propose legislation in 2015 to clarify the issue of what happens to a microbrewery when it produces above the current production cap and reaches producer status, and to ensure that the change in status does not result in the closing of a brewery’s restaurants or other retail establishments,” Rob Fullmer, president of the guild, told CBB. “Currently, microbreweries are those breweries who produce less than 40,000 barrels (bbls). Microbreweries are able to open tasting rooms, restaurants, bars and have limited self-distribution. Producers, on the other hand, can brew an unlimited amount of beer, but cannot self-distribute, and cannot open restaurants, bars, or any other type of retail establishment that sells alcohol.
“Without the proposed changes in our current statutes, these breweries will be forced to shutter their restaurants and tasting rooms,” Fullmer continued. “Our proposed solution allows a microbrewery to grow without having to shut down highly successful restaurants that have proved instrumental in establishing and promoting the products of Arizona’s microbreweries.”
In Virginia, WVTF Radio looks at the lobbying efforts of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.
Mark Thompson is founder and Master Brewer of Starr Hill Brewing Company in Crozet. He says their visits to The Hill have been fruitful:
“Within the last 3 years, the winds of change seem to have shifted, and the legislators seem to be on our side. Again, we are in many ways – I’ve said this a thousand times – craft brewing in Virginia is the poster child for what all legislators want to see. We create high-paying jobs that give health insurance, that have tourist components – hospitality components – our jobs cannot be outsourced.”
“We need to get rid of some of these weird alcohol issues that aren’t about public safety but that are just plain weird.”
Dabakis says he plans to challenge some of those issues in the upcoming legislative session. One item on the list is the “intent to dine” issue which requires restaurants to ask alcohol-ordering patrons if they would like to order food as well.