Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Post Mardi Gras, Pre-St. Patrick's Day, and Beer Policies



OK, I know it was just Mardi Gras, but cowboy up and tackle St. Patrick's Day head on! I live in the Irish Channel so the parade on Saturday (3/15) is walking distance, as are the homes of several friends/neighbors who will be hosting get-togethers that day. I'm hoping to get my hands on a friend's homebrew, it's been a while since I had the privilege of enjoying it.

I have other St. Patrick's Day tips here!

Fellow beer blogger Jeremy Labadie has co-authored a book with local historian Argyle Wolf Knapp called "New Orleans Beer: A Hoppy History of Big Easy Brewing," which they were signing at NOLA Brewing. I wrote this week's Gambit column on it, along with another historical event - the launch of NOLA Brewing's NOLA Funk series. Check it out!

In other news, it appears that a few thousand craft beer vultures in Tampa showed us why we can't have nice things. The owner of Cigar City, after the Hunahpu Day Debacle, says the brewery won't be hosting this event again, and future vintages of the (obviously) highly-sought after beer will be distributed to retailers like any other seasonal.

A couple of cool links about women in brewing (thanks to Jamie Jurado of Abita Brewing who is a link-loving ninja!) This is a blog post by the wonderful Julie Herz of CraftBeer.com. It's a couple years old, but it's a great place to start with exploring the world of beer from a lady's point of view. This piece was written last week in celebration of International Women's Day on March 8. It relays 5 little-known facts about women's role in brewing history. Also, our regional neighbors to the east, Alabama, has just hired its first lady brewer!

I spent yesterday dealing with the city and state around various processes involving beer. I spoke on behalf of Courtyard Brewing during their City Planning Commission meeting at City Hall. Following well reasoned and logical speeches from both owners (Scott Wood and Lindsay Helwig) and their landlord, the CPC passed Courtyard's application 5-0 and changed the requirements that Wood and Helwig were contesting. YAY!

I also sat in on a meeting between the Louisiana ATC Commissioner, Troy Hebert, a representative from the New Orleaans Department of Revenue, local breweries, homebrew clubs, retailers, and distributors to talk about how the law applies to WYES. There's been a newfound enforcement of laws that have been on the books for decades, but until recently, not really been paid attention to. It's causes some confusion and frustration, so the organizers of the WYES International Beer Festival thought it would be a good idea to have everyone sit down and figure it all out face to face.

Here are some of the salient points that came out of that meeting:

  • Breweries and distributors can NOT donate beer or equipment to a nonprofit event. The event needs to BUY all the beer and equipment ahead of time and then the brewery and/or distributor can write a check to the charity to cover those expenses.
  • That said, apparently brewpubs and other retail establishments don't have to do that - they can donate directly to the charity, because they are retailers, NOT manufacturers or distributors. (It took a little while to get to the bottom of this question.)
  • All STATE permits and licensing for homebrewers (and professional brewers?) are taken care of through the event organizer; in this case, WYES. 
  • Any events in the City of New Orleans needs to have fully licensed exhibitors; the exhibitor (brewery or homebrew club or group) needs to get their OWN exhibitor license; it costs $50 but is good for one calendar year (until December 31 of the year you bought it.) 
  • Distributors need to arrange for an City exhibitor license for each brewery in their portfolio that will have its own table and branded signage; however, if the brewery is under the auspices of the distributor, then it's the distributor that is responsible for the exhibitor license.
  • City exhibitor licenses should be applied for at least 30 days before the event.
  • State event and homebrew permits should be applied for (by the event organizer) at least 10 days before the event.
  • Commissioner Hebert also alluded to potential bills that may come up in this state legislative session to improve the processes around donating beer for breweries and distributors. No docket numbers have been assigned, so we'll see.
  • Hebert was also impressed that the beer community sat down to talk with him/the ATC well ahead of time so that everyone would be on the same page from the start. He definitely seemed to appreciate the willingness to listen and work out the details.

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