***This post was originally posted on BreweryLaw.com, a blog devoted to beer law! The blog is published by Reiser Legal, LLC, a Seattle, Washington law office. Reiser Legal’s Douglas Reiser is our regular legal blogger.***
Well, its over. Both of the private liquor initiatives have failed to win the hearts of Washington voters. Even though there are still some votes to count, the battle is over.
But why did voters not embrace this initiative?
This year the elections were charged by an eagerness to reduce taxes and eliminate the government stranglehold on business. Nationwide, voters made it clear that they felt that big government had failed.
With voters looking to reduce taxation and governmental control, you would think that an initiative to eliminate Washington’s monopoly over liquor sales would prevail, right? How about an initiative that, as both sides would argue, would reduce the costs of beer and wine sold in Washington state? Hole in one, eh? Nay.
Washington voters listened to the issues and voted with their brains, and not their hearts. I firmly believe that Western Washington’s love for its communities, defeated these measures. They listened to the local businesses that they support and decided that I-1100 was not for them and their families. (Note: I-1105 was defeated roundly). The massive amount of money that was dumped into this initiative appears to have been put to good use, as public education significantly assisted the “No” campaign.
So, what’s next?
One thing is for sure, it was a close call. The I-1100 vote came down to the final votes. The dividing line is not too wide.
Secondly, many of the organizations that supported the “No” campaign, including the Washington Brewers Guild, are not against the concepts of liquor privatization and free markets. They simply do not want it to happen overnight.
The one sentiment that I believe most shared was that overnight deregulation could be disturbing for businesses in the industry. Most of these groups might have been willing to get behind a measure that built in gradual deregulation. Heather McClung, owner of Schooner Exact Brewing, stated that the Guild’s members favor “slow, steady growth in modernizing those laws.” So, its possible they would get behind some, better crafted, legislation.
Finally, this was a voter initiative and not a legislative measure. Public citizens drew up significant changes to Washington state law (called for the repeal of 26 state laws), and I believe that it frightened some people. If a more gradual measure was to pass through the legislature, it might have more footing.
In the end, I suspect that there will be a congressional push to get proposed legislation circulated in the legislature. In the next few years, the State of Washington will likely have some form of private liquor sales and a more deregulated alcohol business. I would take those betting odds.
***This post was originally posted on BreweryLaw.com, the nation’s first, and maybe the only, blog devoted to beer law! The blog is published by Reiser Legal, LLC, a Seattle, Washington law office. Reiser Legal’s Douglas Reiser is our regular legal columnist.***
The Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new Memorandum of Understanding pertaining to the use of the term “Organic” on alcoholic beverage labels. Of course, this news is of utter importance to brewers, especially those in the NW who have focused on brewing organically.
We learned about this Memorandum on Davis Wright & Tremaine’s Hospitality Law Blog by attorney Kelly Luzania. According to Luzania, the TTB will continue to review all labels and advertising for alcoholic beverages, subject to a caveat. Any labels or advertising making claims that the product is “100% organic”, “organic” or “made with organic (ingredients)” must be reviewed with regard to USDA National Organic Program regulations.
From Kelly’s article:
COLAs for wine, beer and spirit labels that contain “organic” claims will now be approved by the TTB as “approved subject to compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the National Organic Program regulations[.]” If they do not comply with USDA organic laws, the labels will be rejected and the TTB will let applicants know what changes need to be made to make the label compliant. An applicant may only appeal this rejection with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
The Memorandum provides an interesting look at two of the alcoholic beverage industry’s regulatory bodies working together to reduce confusion and maintain consistency in COLA reviews.
***This article was originally published at BreweryLaw.com, a beer law blog published by our legal writer, Reiser Legal LLC***
The new beer is a collaboration between Stone Brewing, 21st Amendment and Firestone Walker, three of California’s finest brewers. From a quick look at the ingredients, this new collaboration seems to be a spiced fruit basket of ale.
BevLog, one of our favorites beer law websites, ran a story about the new beer after seeing the label submission run across the TTB. As you probably know, the TTB is responsible for approving the labels of beers sold in the US. The mission is to ensure transparency and safety for the beer consumer.
Check out the label above – and be floored by the contents of this new ale. Ingredients such as chia seed, peppercorns, fennel seed and mission figs are seldom seen on your beer label. In fact, they probably remind you more of your easter lamb than your afternoon ale.
The BevLog did some brief research on the contents: (from their site)
This beer has a rather uncommon and unlikely combination of ingredients. The peppercorns are no great surprise, but the alcohol beverages with chia seeds seem to be few and far between. Wiki reports that chia is an Aztec word for oily, and these seeds contain large amounts of oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. (Un)Real El Camino Black Ale is also brewed with fennel seed and mission figs. It is a collaboration among several brewers and is bottled by Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, California.
It does not appear that this beer was held up in submission to the TTB. But it is likely that it demanded a bit of research over there. Its nice to see brewers continuing to push the envelope with new and exciting formulas.