A TOAST IS IN ORDER
It’s been a good week in Pennsylvania for craft breweries large and small. Some big changes have been implemented that will help them grow more easily and cost effectively. There’s a very good chance that you may not have heard about the new brewery regulations that went into effect May 30, 2015 in Pennsylvania. And, you’re probably thinking, “Why is it important and what’s the big deal?”
Because of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board passing Section 3.93, Title 40 of the Pennsylvania Code, PA craft breweries can now sell their beer in their tasting room without having to obtain a costly and highly regulated Restaurant License or Brew Pub License in addition to their mandatory Brewery License.
I sat down with Ken McDermott, attorney at Shumaker Williams PC, over some stellar brews at Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. in Carlisle, PA to get the full scoop and cut through all the legal ease. You may know Ken as Barrels & Barristers (@PA_Alcohol_Law) on Twitter or follow the blog bearing the same name: BarrelsAndBarristers.co. Ken is active in the local craft beer community and helps to bring everyone up to speed on laws and regulations that affect the industry.
Through our discussions, I learned that a Brewery License is now the only license needed by a brewery to sell a pint of beer to their customers at the brewery and up to 2 satellite taprooms. “The taprooms” concept is especially important because they now do not need to brew at these locations. But they must comply with these regulations which are far less costly than the regulations of say a Brew Pub License:
- beer must be consumed on-site between 10am – midnight
- the beer has to have been produced by the brewery (even if in another location)
- 10 seat minimum
- snacks must be available (think: chips, pretzels)
- a satellite taproom must have an address (that means a Food Truck does not constitute a taproom. Darn!)
Because brewers no longer have to register for a Brew Pub License “this reduces barriers for new breweries to come online,” noted Ken. Prior to this change, a brewery needed to have a full-time manager employed, 30 seats for customers and at least 300 square feet of space in their taproom area. A brewery also could not have a satellite taproom in the past that didn’t brew beer at that location. Expansion is now possible for breweries that do not have big budgets to go into new markets. It also makes it easier to test a market before investing a ton of money at that satellite location. Two very big pluses in my mind. I hope to see some of my favorite breweries open up taprooms in or near my home town. Oh, the possibilities!
LET’S APPLAUD THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHANGE
The regulation revision that allows breweries to have satellite locations was championed by the Brewers of Pennsylvania and their general counsel: Theodore J. Zellers, III of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A. Ted has extensive experience in liquor law, has authored portions of bills that have benefited PA craft breweries and is also General Counsel to D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ted this week as well. I’m certainly not law savvy and he was very helpful in answering my many questions and explaining things in an easy to understand way. I applaud him for helping push PA liquor law in the right direction for craft breweries. We need more folks like him to continue to keep Pennsylvania a craft beer friendly state.
CRAFT BEER LOVERS REJOICE
We will now have greater access to the beers we love. Already, Crystal Ball Brewing Co. of York, PA recently posted on Facebook that because of the new regulations they now plan to sell beer at their brewery and are looking for locations to open up a tasting room. Be sure to follow them on the Socials to get the latest scoop about their expansion.
While meeting at Molly Pitcher Brewing Co., the owners expressed their excitement about the change and are now brainstorming ways they can save money all while expanding for the growing demand for their beer. Every time I step foot in their taproom it is full or gets filled up within minutes of opening. They need more space to serve their customers. And, now they have the ability to do so. Can’t wait to see what they come up with!
WILL SATELLITE TAPROOMS OVERCROWD THE ALREADY EXPLODING MARKET?
Just in the South Central Pennsylvania area alone, I know of at least 5 craft breweries that will open up in the next 6 months. New breweries really have to fight to get noticed and then fight even harder to keep those curious imbibers coming back on a regular basis. Satellite taprooms will definitely mean more competition. There’s no question about it. As long as the beer served is a quality product, is something that customers desire, and is served in a customer-friendly environment, I think breweries will be able to co-exist and profit quite nicely. We’re a thirsty state, and craft beer tourism is growing. Folks ask me all the time, “I’m visiting PA soon. Where should I go to get really great craft beer?” PA has a reputation for really great brew, and the demand is growing.
Now if only we had a Pennsylvania Craft Beer Trail website or app so folks can create their Beercation Itinerary. Hmmm. I need to find a way to make that happen!
If you would like to read more about the regulation legal details, please check out the following blogs:
Shumaker Williams PC
> Pints-On-Premises: Breweries Can Now Sell Beer On-site Without A Brew Pub License
Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A.
> Breweries Can Add Independent Tasting Rooms in Pennsylvania
(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untappd: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)