Washington Announces The First Farmer’s Markets to Offer Beer And Wine Sampling

Expect booze at Pike Place in September (photo: WordRidden on Flikr)


Booze is coming to your farmer’s market and grocery store. The Washington Liquor Control Board selected three local farmers markets and seven other Washington markets to run its pilot program. We first discussed this on Brewery Law Blog earlier this year.


The three Seattle farmers markets are the West Seattle Farmers Market, the Magnolia Farmers Market and Pike Place‘s farmers market. The pilot begins on September 1, 2011 and runs through November 1, 2012.  The liquor control board is scheduled to report back to the Legislature by the end of December 2012 with its findings.


Unfortunately, the rules of the pilot program permit sampling by only one brewery, microbrewery or winery per day. The samples must be no more than 2oz and customers are restricted to 4oz total. I expect that the farmer’s markets will host a heated contest for the single daily slot.


The LCB sent out 59 invitations for inclusion in the pilot program and 40 opted in. The state elected to choose 10 programs in a geographically proportionate manner. Let’s see how it goes.


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Flying Dog Gets Its Way In Michigan, But Lawsuit Continues

Headed to Michigan shelves.


Well, it has arrived. Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery is finally allowed to sell its incredibly tasty Raging Bitch IPA in Michigan. But, will that stop them from pushing on in federal court? Apparently not.


Back in April, I published an article discussing a Michigan ban on the Belgian-Style IPA.The Michigan Liquor Control Commission determined that the label for the beer was offensive. Apparently, the MLCC is not a fan of British painter Ralph Steadman’s iconic art. Ralph’s emphatic declaration on the bottle’s label was deemed  “detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of the general public.”


In response, Flying Dog filed a federal lawsuit claiming that its First Amendment rights had been violated. The suit proceeded to hearing in early June, on a request for a preliminary injunction. The MLCC reversed course just three weeks later and issued an approval for the label. The beer is now headed to the shelves.


This must spell an end for the federal lawsuit, right? Wrong.


Flying Dog is seeing its suit all the way through, seeking damages for lost profits and a declaration from the court that would prevent the MLCC – and seemingly all other liquor authorities – from content-based discrimination. In my approximation, such a ruling could be far reaching. So, this case becomes a very interesting one to watch.


For those of you pushing borders with your beer labels, stay tuned. This lawsuit could have an important effect on the future of beer.


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