Our new breweries often seek legal and business advice about ways to get brand exposure, while building a connection with their community. And, one question that comes up is whether it’s a good idea to sell or sample beer at a farmers market. As you’d expect, a farmers market is a great place to engage consumers and other producers in conversation, in a fun and less formal way than even the most casual taproom environments allow. Still, although farmers markets are an awesome venue for talking beer, selling it, and introducing new friends to your brewery, Washington state law is really, really particular about when and how you can go about selling your beer at a farmers market.
There are some steps that the farmers market must take in order for a brewery to be eligible to come out. Brewers should be aware of this requirement, ensuring the market’s own approval is all in a row. On the brewery’s side, there are a series of regulations and requirements. For starters, the brewery has to provide the Liquor Control Board (LCB) a monthly list of dates, times, and locations the brewery will be offering its beer for sale at a qualifying farmers market. This list has to be approved before you can offer beer for sale. It’s also important to keep in mind that only so many wineries and breweries can be present at the market at the same time. Sample sizes are severely limited to no more than two ounces or less, with a maximum of two ounces to a customer per day. Beyond that, consumers can’t take a sample and leave your booth/stall; consumers must stay put and enjoy your wares in your designated area. Further, to be in compliance, a brewer would need to have food available for consumers or be positioned adjacent to a food vendor.
These are just a handful of the requirements breweries will need to keep in mind before setting up shop at a Washington farmers market. From a business perspective, heading to a farmers market can offer awesome exposure. But, attendant to that positive exposure is some exposure to liability. Established farmers markets tend to be savvy, and are typically proactive about helping brewers comply with the regs. However, before committing yourself and setting up shop, it’s always advisable to reach out to your beer attorney, making sure your side is sorted out and ready to go.