Governor Brown Signs AB 647 into Law!!

 

 AB 647 (Chesbro) makes three distinct changes to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Business & Professions (B&P) code.

 The first is related to the labeling of growlers. It is a small but important change. For more detail about growlers visit the CCBA Growler Clarification here. The second change that AB 647 makes is in relation to the definition of beer manufacturing. Lastly, AB 647 addresses a technicality in the statute that did not allow a beer manufacturer to bring samples of their products to an industry trade association meeting. An amendment was made to the code to allow this in the very limited situation when a bona fide beer industry trade association is holding a private meeting on the premises of a licensed beer manufacturer.

 

 The details of the three amendments to the code created by AB 647 are as follows:

 1)    The CCBA supports current labeling law that requires a brewery to “obscure” information from another brewery on a container before refilling and selling it. We believe it is important that when a consumer takes home a container of beer that the container (growler, bottle or keg) be accurately labeled with the name of the brewery and the beer inside the container. In some cases, breweries were simply putting a growler into a brown paper bag to “obscure” the previous label and then putting their label on the bag to meet the current requirements. When the consumer walked out the door, they would often take the growler out of the bag, and the growler was then improperly labeled. The growler was labeled as being from Brewery A, but had beer in it from Brewery B. If you were Brewery A, you now had your growler with your name on it with beer in it from another brewery. The ABC had no way to enforce this under current statute. AB 647 adds simple language to B&P code section 25200(c), which states that the previous label must be completely obscured in a manner “not readily removable by the consumer….” Additionally, some breweries were obscuring the name of the previous brewery but not the logo or text from the previous brewery. AB 647 adds that “any information concerning any beer previously packaged in the container, including the information regarding the manufacturer and bottler of such beer, or any associated trademarks must be removed, or completely obscured.” Please read the CCBA Growler Clarification for complete details and best practices on growler refills.

2)    AB 647 also amends the definition of beer manufacturer in a way that protects the authenticity of our industry. In the recent past, there have been type 23 licenses issued to breweries that do not actually brew any beer. They were taking advantage of the many privileges of the type 23 license such as operating a tasting room, self-distribution and retail sales but not making any beer at the licensed premise. AB 647 amends B&P code section 23012 to state that a beer manufacturer must have “facilities and equipment for the purposes of, and is engaged in, the commercial manufacturer of beer.”

3)    Finally, AB 647 addresses the problem of brewing industry regional guilds and associations not being able to sample each other’s beers at meetings held at a brewery. Current law only allows a beer manufacturer to provide samples of beer brewed under that license. In other words, if a brewing industry trade association meeting is held at a brewery, brewery members of that association cannot bring their beers onto the premise and share samples with each other during the course of the meeting. This bill will change the law to allow this practice. The bill amends B&P code section 25503.3(d), which states that samples from a licensed brewery may be served “to attendees at a meeting of a bona fide beer manufacturer trade association or brewers’ guild held on the premises of a licensed beer manufacturer.”

The bill may be seen in its entirety here.

 

The CCBA is committed to maintaining the integrity and authenticity of our industry and will continue to work closely with the ABC to ensure that the Department has the necessary statutory authority to enforce the intention of the B&P code.