Numerous legal changes took effect on Wednesday, July 1, and you need to know about them. Some are quite clear, while others will require clarification. You may need to chat with your regional ATC officers; NABC's ATC branch is located in Seymour, and the people there have always been straightforward and helpful with me.
New Laws in a Nutshell
PLEASE READ FIRST: This is not intended as legal advice, nor as a thorough analysis of the new laws. Every fact situation is unique and application of any law can hinge on a small detail. Enforcement may differ in the various excise regions. Always check with your attorney for counsel on how statutes and administrative rules affect your business.
It was a big year at the State House. We had an ambitious agenda and achieved most of our goals. New laws went into effect on July 1, 2015. Here is a brief introduction to the final legislation.
Holder of Small Brewer permit may produce up to 90,000 barrels annually for sale or distribution within Indiana.
If brewery has more than one location and/or permit, the 90,000 limit applies to the aggregate.
Brewery may self-distribute up to 30,000 barrels annually.
The 30,000 limit applies to aggregate. Whether a brewery has one location of ten, it may only self-distribute 30,000 bbls.
A brewery and winery, properly permitted, occupying the same building may serve from a common service bar without separation.
Tasting rooms with Small Brewer permit must have food available for on-site consumption, but may fulfill the food requirement in one or more of the following ways:
Food truck at or near the premises;
Menus available for customers to order from restaurants that will deliver to the premises; or
Food prepared onsite.
If using restaurant delivery option, make the menus obvious and have a solid agreement in place with the restaurant(s).
This section does NOT apply to restaurant permits (Beer & Wine RR or 3-way).
Use good faith. Don’t stretch the rules.
Beer may be stored or conditioned in a non-permit building that is owned or leased by the permit holder.
The term “by the permit holder” means the name on the permit, e.g., “XYZ Brewery.” This does not mean that John X, President of XYZ Brewery can store the beer in his home garage.
Excise is taking a very hard line on this. “Store or condition” means exactly that and nothing more. Beer cannot be sold or served at a non-permit building, and cannot be delivered to any buyer or distributor from a non-permit building.
Best practice: get your building permitted to avoid problems and heightened scrutiny. If it is on your property, you can probably amend your floor plan to include it. If at a separate address, get a new permit.
Local government (town, city, county, township) may not enact laws or rules that would change the scope of any alcoholic beverage permits. The ATC has exclusive authority over permit issues (subject only to legislative changes or judicial action).
This provision is in a section on alcoholic beverage permits and it only applies to permits.
FESTIVAL OVERSIGHT BY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Provides that beer served at a fest or fair is not considered “food” and not subject to oversight or regulation by the local health department.
This language ONLY applies to festivals and fairs. Do not take this language out of context. It does NOT prevent the local health department from visiting or inspecting your brewery.
However, a brewery that provides food in any fashion—including garnishes, fruit or condiments—will be subject to local health regulation.
DO NOT serve fruit, peppers, garnishes, munchies or any type of food product at a fest or fair unless you get a food permit. Bad idea.
ARTISAN DISTILLERY OWNERSHIP
Modifies “ownership” language of preexisting requirement that applicant for distiller’s permit must have held a permit for at least three years. Previously required 100% same ownership in distillery as brewery, now need a minimum of 50%.
“TRADE SHOW” or “EXPOSITION
This section mirrors a pre-existing winery provision that allows wineries to sell bottles at festivals, with certain stipulations. Although the language refers to “trade show” and “exposition” Excise calls these “festival days.”
Brewery may use up to 45 days per year to participate in festivals where it will sell packaged beer.
You must notify your local excise officer (email or telephone call should suffice). Advance contact is mandatory. NOTE: Indiana Excise does not currently allow growlers under this section. See note, below.
Each “day” used will last for entire calendar day and could include participation in more than one event on same date.
Those wishing to sell carryout beer must be in separate area of festival with other permittees using a festival day. From this area, breweries can offer tastings as well as selling carryout (package goods).
If you organize a local festival, you will still need a temp permit for the fest. If you choose to allow breweries to sell carryout, you will need to put those breweries in a separate area. Each brewery in that area will need to use one of their festival days and give proper notice to Excise.
Proceed with CAUTION. Excise is not yet sure how to interpret this language. They are fine with carryout bottles and cans, but NOT growlers. The issue is still being discussed. Until growlers are officially authorized for festival carryout, do not rely on this statutory language to sell growlers outside your brewery.
As always, use good faith and good judgment when dealing with Excise. Contact your officer early to ensure you and he/she have the same understanding of the new provision.
DO NOT expect to sell take-home products at Guild festivals. Our fests are sampling-only events. You will be notified if this policy ever changes.
The Guild is working with the ATC to iron out the logistics of this new law. Again, proceed with caution.