Correction on SB 64 – New Law Does Not Apply to Breweries

LA Breweries likely will not benefit from SB 64 (Photo: OffBeat.com, Illustration by Jon Sperry)

 

A few days ago, I published a post about the passage of SB 64. At the time, I believed that the law would provide breweries with the opportunity to open taprooms and sell beer at retail to consumers. Turns out, I was most likely wrong.

 

Thanks to some super sleuthing from Parish Brewing owner, Andrew Hadley, I found out today that the intention behind the law was to help out a new distiller and that because the law was placed in the first chapter of beverage regulations (which applies to alcohol of high content) the ATC is treating the law merely as a permission for liquor producers. Wow.

 

So, as much as it pains me to let brewers know that this law is not for them – I must concede. Louisiana law still does provide brewers with the opportunity to open a taproom and sell their beer at retail. Unfortunately, those sales must be kept to 10% of monthly production (See La RS 26:273(C)). Here is what Andrew said:

 

I spoke with the lead counsel for Louisiana ATC today and confirmed that this change to 85.1 only applies to beverages of high alcohol content (liquors and wine) since it is in the chapter dealing with these kinds of beverages. Low alcohol beverages like beer are governed in the following chapter. Quoting from a follow-up email from the lead counsel of the ATC: “SB 64 only applies to liquor wholesalers as R.S. 26:85.1 is for high content only. Louisiana alcoholic beverage law is divided into several chapters; Chapter 1 (which contains 85.1) only applies to high content alcoholic beverages and Chapter 2 (which contains 273C) only applies to low content alcoholic beverages.”

This is not my opinion, this is the exact response from the ATC’s lead attorney. It is very clear about this law not applying to breweries at all.

I know that everyone wants this law to apply to breweries but the legislative intent was to impact only liquor manufacturers. As a lawyer, you know that legislative intent is paramount here.

As a brewery we want a better law than this anyway. If anything, I would rather be able to sell 10% of my production than be limited to only one case per person per month.

 

My first thought is that I am saddened that Louisiana breweries continue to be forgotten. Why distillers and not brewers!? In my opinion, lawmakers should make a uniform decision to help a blossoming industry in Louisiana. This is a bummer, but I will guarantee that the clean passage of this law, mixed with the emotional response of the industry will help push a similar law through very soon – perhaps in the next session.

 

We all want taprooms. Make it happen, lawmakers. Thanks again to Andrew Godley and his help interpreting the new law.

 

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