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Streamlined Liquor Control Code aims to help brewpub licensing process

Within the past few months, the City of Grand Rapids achieved the designation as "Beer City USA" (I will ignore the fact that this distinction must be shared with Asheville, North Carolina).  We at Varnum offer our personal congratulations to all brewers and brew pub operators whose hard work and efforts gave rise to this merit, and we humbly believe that some of our personal consumption of product at any number of the local Grand Rapids establishments may have helped to secure this award.

The immediate conclusion that must be reached from the honor is that beer in general and craft beer in particular is highly coveted by the alcohol beverage consumers in Michigan.  What is equally evident is that the thirst of this consumer base commands that the roughly 72 licensed micro brewers and 49 licensed beer pub operators brew, distribute and bring to market more fine porters, ales and pilsner products.  This is where our State of Michigan, and in particular, the Liquor Control Commission is attempting to offer assistance.  I have been closely following, together with the rest of the beer brewing and beer loving community, the 72 recommendations made by the State's Office of Regulatory Reinvention ("ORR"), for modernizing  the current Liquor Control Code of 1998 and its regulations, as many of the current code provisions date back to the era when Mr. Capone and his cronies declared themselves the exclusive "distribution agents" and "wholesalers" for a majority of the beer, wine and hard sprits that were consumed throughout the Midwest.  However useful these restriction may have been, the consensus is that changes must be made to reflect current industry practices and to eliminate some of the current inequities that are apparent to the licensed beverage community. A number of the ORR's suggestions are specifically designed to provide the craft brewers and the brew pub industry with more of equal competitive field with the macro brewers who operate and/or sell in Michigan.  Over the next several blog posts, I will highlight some of these proposals and monitor the progress of the recommendations. 

One such recommendation would permit brew pub applicants seeking a new license from the State of Michigan to submit the same brewer notification and the same ancillary documentation that is currently required by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.  In theory, this modification would eliminate some of the burdensome documentation required from new applicants streamline the licensing process. If this recommendation, as well as many of the other proposals are actually adopted, those of you in industry can concentrate more of your valuable time on important operational issues, such as securing a more consistent source for hops. Continue to check in with me, as we will continue to monitor legislative and regulatory developments.

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© 2021 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume II, Number 234
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About this Author

Christopher P. Baker, Varnum Law, Ann Arbor, Real Estate Attorney, Beverage Control Lawyer
Counsel

Chris is a member of the firm’s Real Estate Practice Team. He has significant experience representing retail license holders, including resorts, hotels, restaurants and retail developers. Chris also works with licensed suppliers, including brewers, distillers and wineries in all areas of alcoholic beverage regulatory matters, including licensing, enforcement and trade practice issues. He is well versed with the wholesale, distributor and importer provisions of the Michigan Liquor Control Code and regularly represents clients before the Michigan Liquor Control Commission...

248/567-7425
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