AB 2004: Brewer's Incremental Parity with Wine Makers

California’s piece-meal approach to alcoholic beverage regulation continues with AB 2004, which was recently signed by Governor Brown and gives breweries two privileges previously only granted to wineries. Beginning next year, breweries will be allowed to have outside beer and wine during private events, and they will be allowed to sell packaged beer at certified farmers’ markets.

Wineries are allowed to have other beer and wine on their premises for private events, and have been able to sell packaged wine at farmers’ markets for almost 15 years. For the most part, the new privileges (and their parameters) afforded to breweries are similar to those that wineries have enjoyed, although there are some interesting differences.

First, the new private event privilege will allow breweries to have outside beer and wine not only on their licensed premises, but also contiguous unlicensed premises that are operated by and for the manufacturer. This increases the total area of possible space permitted for private events and is not a privilege currently available to wineries.

Second, AB 2004 does not give brewers the privilege of holding instructional tasting events at farmers’ markets, which wineries will be permitted to do pursuant to AB 2488 signed by Governor Brown this past July.

Third, while wineries and breweries must each sell product that they made themselves at farmers’ markets (as opposed to product they contracted for manufacture), breweries are additionally limited in what farmers’ markets they can attend. The brewery’s manufacturing facility must be located within the county or an adjacent county of the farmers’ market. This requirement brings up some interesting issues, especially in the Bay Area where county boundaries are small and the number of producers is high. Beer producers in Santa Cruz, Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma will not be able to sell their products at San Francisco farmers’ markets.

Brewers and distilleries have been turning up their efforts in California to receive the same benefits as wineries, and have been slowly realizing the benefits of these efforts. Stay tuned for more legislative updates from the Booze Rules blog.