Does the rulebook go out
the window during a pandemic? As the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
(“TTB”) and states weigh in via guidance and industry advisories, the
resounding answer is no. Still, brands seek to support bartenders with, by and
large, pure intentions. That is, brands have money and bartenders may not.
Bartenders and brands establish important and long-term relationships over the
course of, in some cases, decades. If your friend needed a meal, you’d
certainly oblige. However, when the funds are coming from an upper tier
(manufacturer, supplier, wholesaler) member’s pockets, we must consider whether
and how funds can go towards trade. As a threshold matter, we should consider
whether the bartender is employed or unemployed. If a bartender is unemployed,
arguably that person is no longer considered a retailer within the meaning of
the rules. If that’s the case, the rules with regards to how a brand may engage
with that person may also go out the window.
By way of very brief
background, it is unlawful to induce a retailer (an on-premise or off-premise
licensee) to purchase your brand to the exclusion in whole or in part of
another brand’s products. In particular, the federal and most state rules note
that, subject to exceptions, “the act by an industry member of furnishing,
giving, renting, lending, or selling any equipment, fixtures, signs, supplies,
money, services, or other things of value to a retailer constitutes a means to
induce within the meaning of the Act.” In short: unless there is an exception,
you may consider the giving of any “thing of value” to be impermissible.
That means, but for
exceptions, it is impermissible to acquire or hold any interest in a retail
license, pay or credit a retailer for advertising, guarantee a loan to a
retailer, require a retailer to purchase a certain amount of products, or
provide any items that are not allowed under an exception. Those of us in the
alcohol beverage industry may not realize it, but we largely play in the world
of exceptions. The exceptions are where you find it permissible to offer
point-of-sale materials, conduct tastings/samplings, provide displays, offer
educational seminars to retailers, and stock/rotate your products.
Federally and in many,
though not all, states the providing of the “thing of value” must also lead to
exclusion. Exclusion is when the practice “puts the retailer’s independence at
risk.” To determine that, the TTB will look at the practice and consider, among
other things, whether it required an obligation on the part of the retailer to
purchase or promote the brand, and whether it resulted in discrimination among
retailers. That means the brand did not offer the same thing to all retailers
in the area on the same terms without business reasons for the difference in
Now that we’re on the same
page with regards to the rules, we want to consider whether the person we want
to assist is employed by a retailer or unemployed. If the person is employed by
retailer (remember that means on-premise or off-premise), the brand will be
more limited in how it may engage with that person. In short, follow the pre
COVID-19 rules. TTB’s recent guidance on this topic specifically states that
“the furnishing of business meals or entertainment to a trade buyer is an
inducement under the Act” if the inducement results in the full or partial
exclusion of products sold by that brand in the course of interstate or foreign
commerce. In other words, according to TTB, “the furnishing of business meals
or entertainment to a trade buyer is not by itself a violation of the Act.” In
fact, providing retailer entertainment is quite common and many states have
specific regulations that permit the practice.
Typical states rules will
require that the brand’s representative be present, that the entertainment be
reasonable, and not conditioned on the purchase or agreement to purchase any of
the brand’s products. Retailer entertainment rules are how you often see
brand’s take bartenders and liquor store owners to ballgames, concerts and
Given the social
distancing rules, it is impractical and unsafe to get together with working
trade. Instead of going to dinner and discussing business, it may be worth
considering whether a brand feels comfortable doing so online via, say, Zoom or
FaceTime. The brand can send drinks and a meal to the bartender. When the food
and drinks arrive, the brand and the bartender can hop online and eat together.
The brand representative would be as present as one can reasonably during this
time. Of course, the brand should analyze this against the rules in the
applicable state(s) and with its own attorney.
However, if the bartender
is no longer employed, one should now consider him or her as just a regular
consumer, albeit with above average mixology skills. Now the brand may feel
comfortable entering into an agreement with the person to be a brand consultant
to perform any number of services. For instance, to create how-to cocktail
videos or conduct virtual tastings. The brand would then pay that person
whatever the two agree as reasonable. The brand should consider putting an
agreement in place with that out-of-work bartender. The agreement should
include basic provisions, perhaps paying particular attention to intellectual
property (we own it, you’re using it with our permission and we own what you
create) and representations around the unemployed bartender’s status. This
compliance section should require the person being hired to acknowledge that he
or she does not have any direct, or indirect, ownership in any retailer, and,
at minimum, that the fee being paid is not conditioned on or being used to
induce any retailer to purchase the brand’s products to the exclusion of any
Now that you have a
solution for supporting both employed, though perhaps struggling, bartenders
and those out-of-work, go out there and keep your brand alive and relevant
during these unprecedented times. Be
careful out there.
Malkin is principal attorney at Malkin Law P.A., a law firm serving the
alcohol beverage industry. Nothing in this article is intended to be and should
not be construed as specific legal advice.
By: Nichole Gunn, Vice President of Marketing and Creative Services, Incentive Solutions
As a craft beer producer, competition is fierce. According to the Brewers Association, there were 7,346 craft beer producers in the U.S. last year competing for $27.6 billion in sales. That’s a lot of beer! And, that doesn’t even take into account competition from “The Big Five” or import beer for shares of the overall U.S. beer market.
For craft beer producers
who are looking to scale and increase sales, it might be tempting to start
pouring your marketing funds into consumer marketing. But will that really make
a splash? Think of the hundreds of millions in media spend by beer companies
every year that you’ll be going up against.
Could there possibly be a
more efficient way to use that marketing spend? For craft beers producers who
are trying to go to market, it’s important to sit down and ask yourself, “Who
has the biggest impact on whether or not end consumers find my beer? And how
can I motivate them to prioritize my business?”
Understanding the Craft Beer Sales Channel
When it comes to
connecting with end consumers, craft beer producers have four options:
directly to consumers at your brewery.
directly to consumers online.
to consumers through other retailers.
• On-Premise: Selling to consumers
through bars and restaurants.
However, on-site sales are limited by geography and e-commerce sales require brand familiarity or extremely creative (or very expensive) marketing. For a scalable sales and marketing strategy, craft beer producers have to turn their attention to retail and on-premise sales and the indirect sales force that helps them achieve penetration with these vendors.
Incentivizing Distributor and Wholesaler Sales Reps
Outside of smaller, highly
localized breweries, most craft beer producers rely on distributors,
wholesalers and other supply chain trading partners to market to retailers and
restaurants. Distributor and wholesaler sales reps are responsible for selling vendors
on the value of your beer, negotiating pricing and terms of sale agreements and
ultimately getting your craft beer to market.
There’s one small problem:
no matter how awesome your craft beer is, it only a small fraction of your
distributor or wholesaler’s supply mix. In this battle for mindshare, it’s up
to you to educate reps about your brand, enable them to sell your product and
supply them with a value proposition that inspires them to take action on your
This is where an incentive
program comes into play. When many people think of incentive programs, they
think about rewards. But while rewards play a big role in building
relationships with your channel partners and adding to your overall value
proposition, modern incentive programs take a more holistic, software-driven
Today’s incentive programs
act as comprehensive sales and marketing platforms that enable craft beer
• Build mindshare with
distributor and wholesaler sales reps.
• Target promotions by qualifying
participant type, regions or product line.
• Fill data gaps within
• Enable sales reps to sell
their product to vendors.
• Deepen relationships with
partners throughout their channel.
Building Mindshare with Distributors and Wholesaler Sales Reps
Sales reps, for the most
part, sell what they know. However, in a crowded supply mix, building this
awareness and product knowledge with sales reps can be challenging. While every
supplier wants something from these outside sales reps, far fewer supplier
focus on offering value and creating memorable brand interactions.
Inviting these sale reps
to enroll in an incentive program where they have the opportunity to earn
millions of rewards or exclusive incentive travel opportunities (and perhaps
giving them a generous point bonus upfront) is more than a nice gesture. It’s a
strategic differentiator and an opportunity to stand out from your
Your rewards program also
creates new opportunities for communication and engagement that aren’t strictly
business. These brand interactions are an opportunity to improve
personalization and build relationship capital, which can be difficult to
achieve in supply chain partnerships.
Targeting Promotions to Minimize Cost and Maximize Return
It’s worth noting that a
channel partner program is an investment. When planning an incentive marketing
strategy, craft beer producers need to focus on maximizing the return on their
marketing spend. This means that they should target first and scale second.
For instance, would it
make more sense financially to target your program to the sales and brand
managers at the distributor level or the individual reps who work beneath them?
It depends on your go-to-market strategy and the size and number of distributors
you work with. If you sell through smaller wholesalers with a handful of reps,
who each are responsible for a significant portion of your overall sales
volume, then it might make sense to structure your program to reward individual
sales reps. On the other hand, if you’re selling through a number of
wholesalers and distributors, or an extremely large distributor with thousands
of reps, it might make more sense to target your incentive programs to sales
and brand managers.
Additionally, from those
managers and sales reps, craft beer producers can set qualification thresholds,
based on sales volume or engagement, to ensure that their incentive program
spend is allocated toward the participants who are most impactful to their
Another aspect of your
targeting strategy is choosing to set incentive promotions by specific regions
or product lines, based on strategic initiatives and opportunities for
Collecting More Complete Data Throughout Your Channel
Craft beer producers, like
many other companies who sell into a channel, often struggle with having
inaccurate and incomplete data about their channel. Your incentive program is
an opportunity to motivate distributors and wholesalers to provide more
complete data. There are several ways craft beer producers can use their
incentive program to fill in gaps in channel data:
• Structuring enrollment
forms that capture contact information and firmographic data during program
• Including automated tools
for sales reps to attach invoices or other documents as part of the program’s
sales verification process.
• Offering rewards to
participating sales reps for referring other reps within their organization.
• Rewarding sales reps for
completing voluntary surveys that can be used to clean up your existing
database or collect more information about your participants’ interests,
demographic and lifestyle.
• Analyzing engagement
datapoints the program generates to spot highly engaged accounts that are ripe
for upsells and cross-sells.
All of this information
can be used to inform your sales and marketing strategy and increase the level
of personalization you offer your supply chain partners.
However, all the data in
the world is useless unless you’re able to act on it. Modern incentive software
includes CRM integration, data filters, reporting dashboards and custom reports
to streamline this data for optimal use.
Enabling Your Distributor and Wholesaler Sales Reps
Do you know one of the
quickest ways to build brand preference with an indirect sales rep? Provide
quality sales enablement. Using proven strategies to educate sales reps on your
brand and your products makes it easy for them to sell your products to
quizzes and training videos with your incentive program is a powerful tool for
supplying your external sales reps with the knowledge they need to sell your
beer. This education can be supplemented by your incentive program’s digital
communication platforms. (If you use this kind of strategy, make sure to break
things up into bite-sized pieces and focus on the highlights your partners will
need to help you go-to-market). Additionally, these quizzes are another
opportunity for sales reps to earn rewards, increasing the overall value
proposition of your program.
Deepening Relationships Throughout Your Channel
Finally, in addition to
short-term sales growth and marketing penetration, your incentive program has
another benefit that will have a lasting impact on the success of your
go-to-market strategy: relationship-building. Non-cash rewards are a social
currency that achieve emotional impact and memorability with sales reps at
distributors and wholesalers. In addition to motivating sales growth and
reinforcing desired behavior, the rewards your program offers create a sense of
For craft beer producers,
your distributors and wholesalers are more than just conduits to the end
consumer. They are your partners – an indispensable part
of your go-to-market strategy. Offering your sales reps the opportunity to
choose from exciting rewards or treating top performers to unforgettable
incentive travel experiences represents the type of brand interactions that
will set you apart from the competition. But more than that, these rewards
inspire your distributor and wholesaler sales reps to emotionally invest in
your brand and take an active interest in your success.
Unsure About Where to Start? Be Smart, Explore Your Options and Focus on Scalability
An incentive program can
be an integral part of a craft beer producer’s go-to-market strategy. However,
what about companies who have never used this type of strategy before? If you
are interested in creating a channel marketing program for your distributors
and wholesalers, do your homework. Identify a goal for your program and the
software functionalities you’ll need to achieve that goal.
Compile a list of
incentive program providers who fit your requirements and who have a proven
track record, with case studies and testimonials to prove it. From there, begin
reaching out to these providers and enlist their help in planning your
incentive strategy. Use these conversations to refine your strategy and learn
more about what has worked for companies with similar goals and similar
distribution channels to yours in the past.
Once you’ve decided on a
provider, you don’t have to go all in. It’s prudent to start small, maybe with
a pilot program or highly targeted incentive promotion. You can always scale,
once you’ve proven that you can do this successfully.
However, it’s also
important to have a sense of urgency. As craft beer sales continues to grow, so
will competition for craft beer dollars. Beating your competitors to building
an incentive program for your distributor and wholesale sales reps can be a
major competitive advantage. Plus, you owe it to your future customers to help
them find their new favorite beer!
Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing and Creative Services at Incentive Solutions (www.incentivesolutions.com), an Atlanta-based incentive company that specializes in helping B2B companies improve their channel sales, build customer loyalty, and motivate their employees. Nichole Gunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Starting a brewery requires learning a lot of new skills and practices that have nothing to do with making great beer. One of the most confusing and frustrating is the issue of distribution. If their state allows, most new breweries initially distribute their own products and, if the brewery is content to be relatively local, that might never change.
But, in many cases, brewery growth necessitates working with a distributor. This is not a relationship to be entered into lightly. A distributor becomes an ambassador for the brewery’s brand and, once retained, the supplier may have little control over how its beer is marketed. Further, these relationships can be difficult or financially impossible to break once established.
relationships are governed by franchise laws in most states. In the absence of
franchise laws, the relationship is defined entirely by a distribution
agreement between the parties. But, even in franchise states, the distribution
agreement can play a critical role, particularly in the termination of the
Too often, however,
breweries accept a distributor’s “standard” agreement and when the relationship
sours, the supplier finds that they are stuck with no viable option to
terminate. The best practice is to engage an experienced attorney to negotiate
the terms of the distribution agreement. While even the best attorney cannot
evade state franchise laws (which generally prohibit a distributor from waiving
its rights), there are ways an attorney may help bring balance to the
supplier/distributor relationship. Some
of the key terms to negotiate include termination, territory, brand scope, and
The most critical section
of the agreement sets forth the manner and circumstances under which a supplier
may terminate the distributor. In a franchise state, the law typically says
that a supplier may terminate for “good cause.” If good cause is defined in the
law, it is paramount that the distribution agreement mirror the language of the
law, because in many cases, a contract that contradicts the law will be held
invalid, leaving the supplier in the position of effectively not having an
agreement at all.
For example, the Virginia Beer Franchise Act states that good cause includes “failure by the wholesaler to substantially comply, without reasonable cause or justification, with any reasonable and material requirement imposed upon him in writing by the brewery.” Further, the Act provides, “good cause shall not be construed to exist without a finding of a material deficiency for which the wholesaler is responsible.” Tracking that language, a distribution agreement in Virginia should clearly define certain of the distributor’s obligations as “material requirements” and explicitly define certain actions as “material deficiencies.”
For example, the Virginia law identifies failure to “maintain a sales volume” of a brewery’s brands as being a reasonable and material requirement. But, the law does not specify what volume is required. So, the distribution agreement should clearly lay out specific minimum sales volumes (preferably on an escalating scale) and identify the requirement to hit those volumes as a material requirement of the contract.
When the law does not define good cause, and in non-franchise states, it is essential for the distribution agreement to do so. The contract should clearly set forth the distributor’s requirements that are critical to the business relationship and for which failure to perform will be grounds for termination.
Examples of common requirements include: meeting specified sales and marketing goals, maintaining appropriate records and reports regarding inventory and sales, transporting and storing the product under specified temperature and lighting conditions, exercising adequate quality control measures to ensure product freshness, and paying invoices within a specified time frame. It is also common to include termination rights if the distributor is declared bankrupt, enters a voluntary’ petition for bankruptcy, enters into a compromise or agreement for the benefit of its creditors, or fails to maintain in good standing all Federal and State licenses and permits necessary for the proper conduct of its business.
In some cases, sale of the
distributor or even a change in the ownership structure may be justification
for termination. In February 2019,
Bell’s Brewery of Kalamazoo, Michigan completely pulled all of its distribution
in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The
issue was that its distributor in Richmond was sold to a subsidiary of Reyes
Beer Division, the largest distributor of beer in the United States. Per its distribution agreement, the original
distributor was to have provided Bell’s with certain information about the sale
to Reyes, but it failed to do so and Bell’s believed that because it did not
have the opportunity to properly vet the new distributor, termination of the
franchise was warranted. To this day the
dispute has not been resolved and Bell’s beer is not available in Virginia.
In most states, a supplier
must compensate the distributor for the lost business even if the supplier is
able to terminate for cause. Sometimes the
law simply says the supplier must pay the distributor the “fair market value”
of the distribution rights. There can be
an expensive battle just to determine that compensation if fair market value is
not defined in the distribution agreement.
Often the value is defined as a percentage of the prior year’s case
volume multiplied by some dollar amount per case. The “standard” contracts
pushed by some distributors can be very severe in this section. In the beer
industry, it is not uncommon to see values set at an entire year’s worth of
profits times a multiplier that can range from 1.5 to many times higher. In
practice, often a new distributor will buy out the distribution rights from the
old distributor, but if the supplier wants to return to self-distribution, this
buy-out provision may be cost prohibitive.
While the beer franchise
laws in most states were written at a time in which large beer manufacturers
had significant market power over small distributors, those roles have
substantially reversed. Slowly, state
laws are being revised to accommodate this change. In Maryland, for example, the law changed on
January 1, 2020 to eliminate the “for cause” provision of termination for
suppliers who manufacture fewer than 20,000 barrels per year and the termination
notice was shortened from 180 days to 45.
However, the manufacturer still has to give the terminated distributor
fair market value of the franchise.
Depending on the size,
experience, and reach of the distributor, there may be an opportunity to
creatively carve out different territories. Territories are most commonly
limited to certain states. However, a supplier may be able to limit a smaller
distributor to certain counties or even specific types of establishments
(grocery stores, but not restaurants, for example). One of the clearest
breaches of the distribution agreement, that may constitute good cause for
termination, is for a distributor to make sales outside of its contracted
Generally, when a distributor is hired to carry a brewery’s brand, it has the right to all of the products in that brand. But exactly what constitutes a ‘brand” is unclear both in the statutory language of most state franchise laws and in many distribution agreements.
In Maryland’s beer franchise law, for example, “brand” is not explicitly defined, but the law appears to favor the distributor in terms of brand scope. Specifically, section 105 of Maryland ‘s Beer Franchise Fair Dealing Act prohibits a brewery from entering into a beer franchise agreement with more than one distributor for “its brand or brands of beer” in a given territory. One might argue that the language “or brands” means that the first distributor has the right to all brands of the manufacturer in a given territory.
In fact, that very’ issue was litigated in the 1985 case of Erwin and Shafer, Inc. v. Pabst Brewing Co., Inc. and Judge Couch, writing for the panel of The Court of Appeal of Maryland, disagreed. The court held that if a brewery retained a distributor to handle one or more of its brands within a territory, it could not then contract with a second distributor within the territory for those same brands. It could, however, contract with a second distributor to carry a different set of brands.
How far the court would
take its interpretation of what is a “brand” is unclear, however. In the Pabst
case, the first distributor was given the right to distribute Pabst brand
beers, but Pabst later merged with Olympia Brewing Company and gave the second
distributor the right to sell its newly acquired Hamm’s brand beers. Whether
the court would have allowed the brewery to contract with one distributor for
Pabst and another for Pabst Extra Light it did not say.
Even if rights under a
distribution agreement cannot be divided by brand (as in the case of the beer
franchise law in Maryland), some states may nevertheless allow a supplier to
contract with more than one distributor within a territory. If permitted in
their state, a brewery should ideally enter into all of its distribution
agreements for a given territory simultaneously, providing notice to each
distributor. At a minimum, the brewery should ensure that the first agreement
entered into is explicitly designated as non-exclusive. Otherwise, the
distributor may view the agreement as giving it exclusive rights to the
territory and could sue the brewery for diminishing the distributor’s business
if it were to engage a second distributor in that territory.
Whether a brewery is in a franchise state or not, it is critical that it review and negotiate its distribution agreements carefully, with the assistance of an experienced attorney. It is also important to remember that the supplier’s diligence does not end when the agreement is signed. No matter how well the terms of the distribution agreement are negotiated and drafted, they are effectively useless if the supplier cannot back up its claims for good cause.
Accordingly, thorough documentation is essential. If a distributor is not meeting sales goals, mishandling product, or failing to provide adequate reports, they must be given written notice of those deficiencies each time they occur.
There are great
distributors out there who become essential partners in a brewery’s business.
But, sometimes those relationships can sour and signing an agreement without
anticipating complications down the line can make it virtually impossible to
sever those ties. A little forethought and planning and a lot of diligence will
go a long way toward a successful termination of a bad relationship.
Brian Kaider is a principal of KaiderLaw, an intellectual property law firm with extensive experience in the craft beverage industry. He has represented clients from the smallest of start-up breweries to Fortune 500 corporations in the navigation of regulatory requirements, drafting and negotiating contracts, prosecuting trademark and patent applications, and complex commercial litigation.
By: Doran Cart, Senior Curator, National WWI Museum and Memorial
By the time of World War I, which started in 1914, beer was
already an ancient beverage made and consumed by most the nations involved in
the war. In light of the long history already written about beer, this article
will center on the personal, official and period-printed references of beer
during World War I held in the archives of the National WWI Museum and Memorial
in Kansas City, Missouri.
Many of the early war
photographs show soldiers, especially German, posing for their gone-to-war
photographs with beer mugs in hand and often sitting on beer kegs. Ceramic beer
tankards were illustrated with scenes of soldiers’ service so they could be
reminded of what they had gone through while enjoying their favorite brew. A
German/Anglo brewery in Tsingtao, China was in production at the beginning of
the war and was there when Japanese forces attacked the German garrison taking
control. A graphic illustration of that attack is on exhibition at the museum.
The brewery still exists.
Changes in the opening and
closing hours of pubs in England occurred during the war when the situation
became dire from many of the war industries’ workers spending more time
drinking beer and “other intoxicating liquor” than producing artillery shells
and airplanes. The Defense of the Realm (Consolidation) Regulations of 1914
specifically prohibited the sale and consumption “on weekdays 12 noon to 2:30 p.m.
and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sundays [the same hours].”
British soldiers wrote in their diaries about beer:
celebrated in our billets – beer, soup, roast beef, plum duff.” A. Stuart Dolden, 1st
Battalion, London Scottish Regiment
October 1916 – “I was amazed to get two bottles of Guiness to drink.” George Coppard, British
Machine Gun Corps, after being wounded.
C.H. Williams, 5th
Battalion, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, British Army,
wrote after Christmas of 1916: “We had our Christmas dinner
in Albert, France in an old sewing-machine factory. We had beer for our dinner – plenty of it –
and a good tuck-in to go with it! Roast
pork! Beautiful after bully beef!” [Bully beef was canned
processed beef issued as a ration].
In England in 1918, the
Hart Family Brewers produced a commemorative extra pale ale called the “Flyer.”
It was brewed to honor Wellingborough, England’s “Own Flying Ace, Major Mick
Mannock.” Major Mannock was a Victoria Cross recipient for his World War I
actions in which he recorded 61 aerial victories with the Royal Flying Corps
(later the Royal Air Force). He was killed over France on July 26, 1918.
Although the American
Expeditionary Forces were technically “dry,” prior to the US 18th Amendment
ratified in 1920, enterprising soldiers soon learned where the beer and wine
were. One US Signal Corps photograph is captioned: “American soldiers in a
captured German trench drinking beer out of steins and smoking cigars.”
From the papers of Captain
Clarence J. Minick, 361st Infantry, 91st Division the following order was
found: “Headquarters 3rd Battalion, 91st Division, Sarrey, France, July 24,
1918. Extract General Order No. XXI. 1. “The following
regulations for the government of troops billeted in Sarrey are hereby
published for the guidance of all concerned: (a) Cafes will be open to troops
for sale of light wines and beers during the following hours: 1:30 A.M. to 1:00
P.M. 6:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. Absolutely no drinking of other intoxicants will be
permitted and all cases of intoxication will be summarily dealt with. Wine or
beer purchased in cafes will be used on the premises and not carried away in
bottles or other receptables.”
At the Battle of St.
Mihiel, France, September 1918, this report of the 353rd Infantry Regiment,
89th Division Intelligence Section related:
“In the evening of September 13, the
Regimental observers established an O.P. [observation post] on the high ground
south of Xammes. While occupying this O.P. the observers lived on the fat of
the land. An abandoned German commissary in Xammes furnished bread, honey,
butter, jam, gold-tipped cigarettes and cigars – from the well-kept German
gardens in the vicinity came a variety of vegetables – and crowning all, German
beer, wine and schnapps were on tap in former Boche (German) bars (for the
‘dry’ All-Kansas regiment).”
During the American
occupation of Germany in 1919 when the rules regarding consumption of beer and
wine had been unofficially loosened, Charles MacArthur, 149th Field Artillery
Regiment, related that in his [cannon] battery’s stop in Bittenburg, “we ran into real German beer, a little watery for the famine in
grain.” Another discovery was made in
Bittenburg: eierkuchen, or German
waffles. “With a helmet
full of flour and a little corn syrup any hausfrau could produce an elegant set
of waffles.” Evidently, the waffles
reached such an esteemed place that “the very name of eierkuchen
was transferred to anything that looked appetizing, especially young women.”
A Captain Biggs related
that the clothing worn by German civilians seemed serviceable, but that the
“shapeless, heavy shoes” was a noticeable feature. Much of the material was ersatz [substitute],
made of paper products. Beer was
plentiful at 20 to 30 pfennings a glass, but “of a poor grade,” as was the
As part of the agreement
for the occupation of Germany after the signing of the Armistice on November
11, 1918 was one unpopular requirement that all dram shops be closed except
during a few hours of the afternoon and early evening. The sale of any intoxicant except beer and
light wines was prohibited.
A printed announcement of
a “Reunion and Smoker” party for the 77th Division’s MP Company on October 25,
1919 at the 77th Division Association Club House in New York City. states that “they will organize an American Legion Post and there will be a
keg. Organized by Francis N. Bangs.” Captain Bangs was in the MP Company, 77th Division, AEF.
A postcard with an
inscription, described the outdoor tables in Bourges where the French would
gather to drink and socialize, as pictured. Inscription on the back: “the French people like to have this little beer table outside.
This is very typical.”
On a printed card from the
YMCA, “The Y.M.C.A accepts no responsibility for money or
valuables kept by soldiers during the night. These should be handed for safe
keeping to the Leader in charge of the Hut. Overcoats, rifles, or other
equipment should be stored in the cloak room. You are urged to leave no
articles of clothing or equipment in the cubicle after dressing or about the
Hut at any time. By order of the Police, Beer and Spirits must not be brought
into the Institute.”
From the service of
Private Walter G. Shaw, 18th Infantry Band, 1st Division. He died at Charpentry
in the Argonne in 1918:
Oct 31, 1917 “I like France fairly Well don’t think I would like to live here
always [sic] they have fine roads here. white and red wine can be bought for 1.50F
a bottle (30c) some of the soldiers get tanked up on it I don’t like it because
it is so sour French people have it with every meal. Champagne can be bought
for 9.00F a bottle $1.75 this is extra dry costs about $7.00 in the U.S. Beer
costs .30 centimes a bottle 10c….”
From the service of
Corporal Reid Disman Fields, Ordnance Detachment, 13th Field Artillery, AEF:
No doubt you will be surprised to hear I am going down into
Germany. Left Mehnin today 11AM. Am going to the Third army. So far as I know
somewhere near Coblenz. So don’t expect I will be back very soon. Tell your
mother I will drink her share of beer. Ha! All for the time so Bye Bye, Reid.”
The roster and menu for
Christmas dinner, 1915 from the 133rd Company, US Coastal Artillery Corps, Fort
Terry, New York listed that the dinner included oyster stew and crackers, roast
turkey, oyster dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, creamed corn,
creamed peas, stuffed olives, tomato catsup, celery, pumpkin pie, mince pie,
cocoanut layer cake, chocolate cake, bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, figs,
cigars, cigarettes, apple cider, and bottled beer.
From US volunteer truck
driver, Ned Henschel, December 8, 1918, Verdun, France:
“…a rumour floated around
that there was beer to found in a neighboring village. Another lieutenant and I
walked eight kilometres to investigate – and found that it was all wrong; there
wasn’t even Pinard!” Pinard was a red French table wine.
During the Easter Uprising
in Dublin of 1916 of Irish citizens against British rule, the British
Illustrated War News of May 10, 1916 reported that British troops took cover
behind a barricade of beer barrels.
One postcard shows a
“German concrete cellar used as cooler for beer, in woods, Meuse, France.” A
British humorous postcard shows a tent surrounded by flood waters with a
downcast soldier poking his head out lamenting “‘Ah! If it were only beer.” A German postcard that a Karl Rosendahl in
writing to Frieda Rosendahl of Riemsloh, Germany related: “My dear Freidelchen, We are sitting in the Train with a nice
glass of beer and send you greetings.” [translated to English].
A letter from F. Thunhorst
of Riemsloh Germany to Carl Rosendahl, June 3, 1915, related that one of their
acquaintances “Old [illegible] is still the same and he just
keeps going. The beer still tastes excellent, and he still drinks a few pints
daily. He sends his greetings.” [Translated from German to English].
American Dale E. Girton,
Base Hosp. #78 wrote on May 8, 1919,
I guess that is a fitting
salutation for one who has told me in a – past letter he has started drinking
Rum, BEER, Wine & Cognac. How about it? Haven’t heard from you for some
time and we are expecting to leave Toul for a port of embarkation at any day
now, so I thot [sic] I would write you a word so that if I am quite a while.”
Beer was universal in WWI.
It was used to quench thirst, to enjoy in comradeship, to relax and possibly,
to help for a moment, to forget about the horror of war.
From the Archives of the National WWI Museum
In the past 10 years, workplace injuries and illnesses declined in
the craft beverage manufacturing industry. This is good news, as it’s a
thriving employment sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that
in 2016—the most recent data collected—breweries, distilleries and other
artisanal beverage producers employed approximately 75,000 people. In Canada,
according to information from the System of National Accounts in 2018, the
craft industry had more than 15,000 workers.
Some experts say a reduction in workplace incidents is the direct result of an attitudinal shift from reaction to prevention. Ashley Heiman is the MRO department manager for Nelson-Jameson in Marshfield, Wisconsin—a single-source food, dairy and beverage processing plant supplier. Heiman explained the vital importance of this approach.
“The Food Safety
Modernization Act created a significant culture shift. The essential question
that the FSMA pushes us and our customer base to ask is, ‘How can I most
effectively and proactively create a safe, quality product?’” she told Beverage Master Magazine. “When you think proactively about your product, it pushes you to
think proactively about your facility and the staff that produces that product.
From floor drains to dust collection in your rafters, every facet of your
facility and those operating that facility can make or break a brewery or
Established in 2011 by the
Food and Drug Administration, FSMA compliance extended to beverage producers at
a graduated rate. It began in 2016 for companies with over 500 full-time
employees, scaling down to “very small businesses”—those with beverage sales of
less than $1 million—finalizing compliance in September 2018. Inspections of
beverage raw materials started this year. For some producers, this compliance
required extensive examination and overhaul of processes and systems.
One might assume that
requirements by OSHA and the FDA already cover worker and product safety
issues. In many ways, they do, but this additional layer of compliance mandated
by the FSMA is a necessity for consumer products. It’s also another thread of
bureaucracy to follow—one of many that can be challenging to untangle.
“It’s very difficult for business owners to dedicate time to learning all the nuances of compliance to both OSHA and the FDA. They’re really interested in creating and growing their businesses, so having a consultant who’s knowledgeable in these compliance areas allows the owner to both focus on the business and ensure that someone is keeping them compliant,” said Gary D. Morgan, Vice President and senior consultant ofSafeLink Consulting in Cumming, Georgia. He’s also an authorized OSHA outreach trainer.
“Our business is to know
everything we can about OSHA safety requirements and FDA regulations on
producing beverages that are safe for the public to consume, so we keep our
clients as informed as possible in these areas,” Morgan said. He also pointed
out that the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and its Food Inspection
Agency mirror OSHA and the FDA requirements rather closely, so producers
sharing a national border are assured of similar compliance between partners.
Create an Environment of Safety
Doing what’s best for the
product starts with the optimum workplace atmosphere and training provided to
employees. Ideally, owners and managers should establish these best practices
in the early stages of the business.
“Bringing a consultant
onboard at start-up can ensure decisions can be made in the development stage
that takes into consideration compliance issues for both OSHA and FDA,” Morgan
said. “Trying to retrofit safety considerations into an existing design can be
costlier than providing for it upfront. Implementing an FDA-compliant quality
system initially can also prevent or handle issues in producing a product
that’s fit for consumption.”
Morgan advised that instead of evaluating consultants by price,
first outline facility specifications.
“Then, I would suggest
that as part of due diligence, talk to several consulting firms and ask the
same questions of each one to ensure an apples¬-to-apples comparison, rather
than just looking solely at pricing. A producer should include expenses for
these services in the annual budget.”
safety solution, Heiman said, is color-coding. “We’ve seen a great interest in
it. It’s proven to be an excellent proactive approach. Not only can
color-coding help prevent cross-contamination in terms of allergens or yeast
strains, but it also helps to organize and streamline workflow, designates
critical control areas of a facility and assists many of our customers in
isolating possible pathogen risks,” she said. “With the wide variety of
products we offer, facilities can build a color-coded program to break up their
operations into pragmatic zones.”
Josh Pringle is the vice president of CO2Meter in Ormond Beach, Florida. His company specializes in the design and manufacturing of gas detection and monitoring devices—mainly CO2—as well as consultancy and training. He advises producers not to rely on state or local inspectors to tell them to improve ventilation or install monitors: do it because it’s what’s best for your employees.
“Producers should consider
the following when preparing to train or educate staff: what’s in the best
interest of our employees, what does our insurance provider require us to do,
what will OSHA/NIOSH expect as part of a training package, and how should we
plan to test and retrain staff,” he told Beverage Master
“We have a brewing partner who made the following statement: ‘Why would I pay a
few hundred dollars for a safety monitor and then not train my staff on what to
do if it goes off? Pointless!’”
Pringle noted that many
professional associations offer free training regarding CO2
safety, proper lockout/tagout procedures, and dozens of other critical topics.
include, but are not limited to:
OSHA and NIOSH also have
online training, workbooks, visual aids and other resources for new employee
and refresher training.
He cautioned against
complacency in your facility. “When employees work in and around hazardous
situations, materials, ingredients and situations, no duty should be considered
mundane or a ‘to do.’ Safety is an every moment, everyday project,” Pringle
said. “The statistic always sited from the National Transportation Safety Board
is the majority of car accidents occurred within five miles of someone’s home.
The data demonstrated that drivers started to let their guard down in more
familiar surroundings. Employee safety has no mileage areas. Any training that
allows for complacency is flawed.”
Morgan agreed. He offered
these three tips:
1. Always be vigilant to
compliance issues. Oversight is demanding.
2. Delegate responsibilities
to duly-trained and competent individuals.
3. Training is an ongoing
activity, not a one-time event.
More Than a List on a Clipboard
Workers in the craft
beverage industry are prone to the following injuries and illnesses:
• Overexertion, including
medical conditions caused by repetitive motion or lifting heavy items such as
barrels, kegs and crates.
• Slips, trips and falls
because of slick floors, ladders, obstacles and carrying heavy loads up and
• Working in fermenters,
tanks, vats and other confined spaces, especially when carbon dioxide exposure
is a concern.
• Physical hazards such as
pressurized equipment, forklifts, temperature extremes, and moving parts.
It might require
specialized products, protective gear, and consultation to maintain essential
worker safety. “Safety concerns are widespread across a facility. Personal
protective equipment, noise protection and respiratory protection are some of
the most common product areas we deal with for our brewery and distillery
customers,” said Heiman of Nelson-Jameson. “Lockout/tagout products are also
popular. Additionally, it’s important to be specific with vendors if employees
are handling chemicals, lab reagents, machinery, and so on. These details
dictate the best products to utilize.”
Even with a safety plan
upon start-up, and as Pringle of CO2Meter expressed
previously, crafting operations are integrated with safety in handling not only
but throughout all functions. So the plan becomes more of a living document,
refined by training, to help staff anticipate and correct issues before a more
significant problem occurs.
Here are the steps Pringle
• Identify the hazard
• Discuss the hazard
• Create a plan of action
to prevent the hazard
• Create a secondary plan
that accounts for and mitigates the hazard
• Define methods to disperse
• Understand the
methodology to test an area to ensure safe conditions
• Create and institute a
policy and procedure to understand an incident
• Create a safety plan
• Including safe zones and
• Practice, practice, practice
“Be mindful. Be aware, Follow procedures, no matter how
cumbersome. For example, lockout/tagout has become a mainstay because it’s
effective,” Pringle said.
specifically, “The most likely points of CO2 incidents for beverage
producers are at their canning and bottling lines. ‘Dosing’ areas typically
register CO2 concentrations above the OSHA– and NIOSH–permissible
time-weighted average standard of 5,000 ppm TWA for employees—placing a typical
producer in violation,” Pringle said. “While working around CO2
can often be a necessity for beverage staff members, having proper training
sessions and ensuring your staff is informed on the dangers of CO2
is the first step.”
Morgan of SafeLink
Consulting had some final thoughts. “Be proactive in establishing your
compliance programs. If you have to be reactive, then something negative has
happened that could be very detrimental to the business itself. It could be an
employee injury or complaint, or a product that causes consumer complaints or
worse, consumer injury or illness,” he said.
“And there’s always the
ever-present specter of an inspection from a regulatory agency with fines,
penalties and even forced business suspension or closure. Give yourself peace
of mind by being on top of compliance issues, not at the mercy of them.”
Saké has been around for thousands of years, but few Americans are familiar with the drink that is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. That is changing, and it’s changing quickly. With U.S. consumers eager to experience alternative beverages and explore new flavors, saké is on the cusp of a revolution here at home. As imports of saké rise dramatically, local artisans and entrepreneurs are seeing an opportunity for a new niche in the craft beverage market: local saké production.
Currently, there are about 20 saké breweries (Kura) in the U.S., including several that originated as American outposts of Japanese companies. These breweries span from California to Maine, from Texas to Minnesota. Wherever they are located, the owners and master brewers (toji) have one thing in common: a passion for the product. Dan Ford, founder and owner of Blue Current Brewery in Kittery, Maine, is one such devotee. After living and working in Japan for years, he decided to “spread the word” by bringing hand-crafted saké to New England.
“I love saké,” Ford said. “I love making it, and I love to see people smile when they taste it. That’s what drives me.”
So what exactly is this mystical brew that is rapidly growing in popularity in the U.S. and around the world? Saké is an alcoholic beverage fermented from rice. It has often been called ‘rice wine’ but, in fact, it is not a wine. Nor is it a beer, nor a distilled product. Rather, it fits into its own unique category.
“Saké has a little bit of identity crisis because a lot of people consider it a wine, but it’s more like a beer, fermented from grain using a saké yeast,” said Tim Klatt, co-founder of Texas Saké Company in Austin, the only saké producer in Texas. “In the past, people’s knowledge was pretty much limited to ‘hot saké,’ which is basically grain alcohol with a little rice flavoring that’s super cheap and heated up so you can’t really taste anything. Our approach is to make a much more crafted, artisan product.”
Jack Lien, sales and education ambassador at SakéOne in Forest Grove, Oregon, said their brewery, too, is on a mission to introduce people in the U.S. to the joys of quality saké. “Saké is unique,” he told Beverage Master Magazine. “It’s brewed like a beer and drinks like a wine. It offers a nice alternative for people who are conscious of what they’re drinking. It’s sulfite free and naturally gluten-free. Some are vegan. It’s a unique beverage that intrigues a lot of people.”
Saké comes in a variety of styles, but the basic ingredients are always the same: rice, water, koji (a fungus that converts the starch in rice to sugar) and yeast. Like good beer and good wine, good saké starts with quality ingredients, primarily premium rice. Generally, U.S. brewers source their rice from California’s Sacramento Valley, which grows some of the finest rice in the world. Texas Saké Company uses Calrose rice, the offspring of high-end rice used ages ago in Japan. SakéOne uses mostly Calrose rice and an American grown Yamada-Nishiki rice, known in Japan for its use in quality Saké. Blue Current uses Koshi Hikari, a short grain variety of rice named after the historic Koshi Province in Japan.
Water quality is also important, as completed saké is 80 percent water. “Water is critical because it can affect the final product,” SakéOne’s Lien told Beverage Master Magazine. “Soft water produces a soft and mellow saké, while hard water, which contains certain minerals, produces a more full-bodied saké.” Most American brewers prefer to use soft water.
Production of saké is not for the faint of heart: it is a complex process that takes time, patience and skill that can only be acquired by training and experience. This process starts when the rice first arrives at the brewery, where it is polished to remove the outer husk and prepare it for brewing good saké.
The polishing rates vary, depending on how much of the outside husk of each grain of rice is removed to reach the starchy and more desirable core. In general, the more the rice is polished, the more aromatically expressive the Saké becomes, and the higher the grade. The majority of saké made in the U.S. are junmai ginjo, a high-end saké milled to 60 percent of its original size, although some brewers may polish further.
After the rice is polished, residue from the milling process is washed from the grain, and the rice is saturated with water, depending on the type of rice and the desired characteristics of the saké. Next, the rice is steamed, which changes the molecular structure of the starch in the grain, allowing easier breakdown of that starch.
The next step — making the koji — is the heart of saké-brewing. “The Japanese say there are three pillars of brewing saké,” Blue Current’s Ford told Beverage Master Magazine. “The first pillar is koji, the second pillar is koji, and the third pillar is koji. All things flow from making koji. If you can make really good koji, you can make really good saké.”
In this process, the freshly steamed rice is spread out on long tables in a warm, heated environment known as a koji room. The rice is covered with koji-kin, the “miracle” mold that converts the starch in the rice to a form of glucose. Over the next 36 to 45 hours, the toji constantly tends the koji to ensure that it’s developing properly. “The koji is food for the yeast, and it’s critical to fermentation,” SakéOne’s Lien said. “Our toji, Takumi Kuwabara, has 25 years of brewing experience—13 years in Japan and 12 here—and he makes our koji completely by hand. He’s continually tinkering and tweaking the koji to make sure he gets the recipe just right.”
After the koji is made, a small amount is mixed with steamed rice, yeast and water in a tank to produce shubo or moto, or a fermentation starter. Typically, it takes two weeks to create a small batch of starter with a high concentration of robust yeast cells. Next, all the prep work comes together. Water, steamed rice, saké rice and the fermentation starter are added in three successive stages over four days to create the main mash, which will ferment over the next 18 to 32 days. During this time, the toji may adjust the length of fermentation, temperatures, and other factors in creating a specific saké profile.
The actual fermentation process is what separates saké from beer or wine. In wine, no sugar conversion is necessary, since sucrose is naturally-occurring in grapes. With beer, the creation of sugar and alcohol are separate processes: starches in the grain are converted to sugar in the form of wort, then yeast is added to create alcohol. In saké, conversion of starch into glucose and glucose into alcohol occur simultaneously in a process called multiple parallel fermentation. One of the characteristics of alcohol made in this method is high alcohol content. Saké is usually about 15 percent alcohol by volume and may be as high as 21 percent.
Once fermentation is complete, the saké is pressed to separate the newly created alcohol from the rice solids left in the mash. The saké is then filtered to remove fine particulates and pasteurized to kill off any remaining bacteria and yeast. Finally, the product is aged—usually for three to six months—and then bottled. The time to brew a batch of saké, from start to finish, is around seven weeks.
While U.S. craft saké brewers typically follow Japanese methods and traditions for brewing saké, they are putting an “American spin” on the product by using processes and ingredients more suited to the local palate. The Texas saké Company, for example, filters their product less than the Japanese. “This gives a more robust saké with lots of fruity flavors,” co-owner Tim Klatt said. “We’re home brewers from the past, so we’re always trying something different. One of our big pushes is oaked sakés, where we toast oak chips in-house and add them to the brew. This delivers an amazing vanilla and oak and tannin experience, which will even stand up to barbeque.” The Texas Saké Company also produces a line of sparkling sakés with seven percent ABV and is preparing to produce a typical Japanese product that “will bridge the gap” between American and U.S. styles of sakés.
SakéOne is on the cutting edge as well, with its Moonstone brands, flavor-infused sakés. These include Cucumber Mint, Asian Pear and Coconut Lemongrass. All are infused right before bottling. “We are making these to appeal to our wild, pioneering side,” Lien said. “This is what we do to have fun.”
As U.S. Saké brewers look to the future, they see more breweries popping up, and more consumers taking notice. All agree that we can expect to see new products, more experimenting with saké-brewing techniques and broader distribution of American-made saké, both in the U.S. and abroad.
“Craft saké is definitely a niche market,” according to Ford, the Harvard-trained entrepreneur who founded Blue Current Brewery. “People are trying new flavors and looking for the next new thing. As a brewer and frequent traveler to Japan, I think it’s wonderful to open the kimono and show people this wonderful new beverage which is probably the coolest thing people have probably never had. The future is looking good: we’re seeing blue skies ahead.”
By: Amy Lessa and Nicole Stenoish, Attorneys At Law, Fisher Phillips
Marijuana legalization is on the rise and quickly expanding to all corners of the United States. Nearly 2/3 of the states have legalized marijuana for either recreational or medicinal use. Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia allow recreational marijuana, and an additional 22 states allow medical marijuana. These numbers are expected to grow over the next few years as the societal and political perspectives on cannabis continue to shift in favor of legalization.
Despite this shift, marijuana still remains an illegal Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act – in direct contrast with legalized marijuana at the state level. Although federal law is superior to state law, businesses must comply with both – even if federal and state laws conflict with one another. The chronic dispute between state and federal marijuana laws has left many employers confused about how to handle marijuana use in the workplace. We’re here to clear the smoke.
Legalized Marijuana – What Can-a-Business Do?
Marijuana laws are constantly evolving and continue to be challenged in courts across the country. This makes it difficult to keep up with the requirements and limitations of legalized marijuana under both state and federal law.
Many employers are now questioning whether their workplace marijuana policies and practices should be revised. Before deciding what policy is best for your company, it is important to understand the law in your state. A company’s policies should also reflect the specific needs and challenges of the business and workforce. For example, many craft brewery owners report they can no longer test for cannabis because most of their applicants cannot pass the drug test at the pre-employment stage. That could leave a brewery without a workforce. As a result, Company’s should decide whether it makes sense to continue testing for cannabis in their pre-employment drug screens. Other issues relevant to this determination are whether your employees operate heavy machinery or work in safety sensitive positions, and are you having difficulty recruiting qualified candidates for your company?
There are several key issues the keep in mind when determining the best marijuana policies and practices for your workforce:
Maintain a Drug-Free Workplace
Employers are entitled to maintain specific policies related to marijuana use in the workplace, including drug-free workplace and zero-tolerance policies. Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, employers can strictly prohibit marijuana at work. Employees can be disciplined, and even terminated, for coming to work under the influence, possessing marijuana on company premises, or using marijuana while at work – even in states where marijuana is legal. In most states, companies also have the right to test employees for drug use, and can discipline or terminate employees for violation of the drug-free workplace policy. Before implementing a zero-tolerance policy, make sure your state does not specifically protect medical marijuana users or prevent employers from disciplining workers for legal off-duty conduct. Otherwise, drug-free workplace policies are essential to help protect your business and manage employees in the wake of legalized marijuana.
Review Drug Testing Policies
Employers can typically require employee drug testing throughout employment. The different types of testing including pre-employment drug testing, random drug testing, reasonable suspicion drug testing, and post-accident drug testing depending on state laws. Employers with mandatory drug testing policies need to ensure they follow specific state laws restricting disciplinary action based on positive test results. Additionally, employers are prohibited from administering drug tests as a form of discipline or for retaliatory purposes. There are several other issues to consider when reviewing your company’s drug testing policies.
First, the science used to test for marijuana has been slow to catch up with increased legalization. While there are testing methodologies currently in development, there is no test to determine whether an individual is presently under the influence of marijuana. Marijuana can remain in one’s system for weeks, and an employee could test positive for marijuana even if it was consumed outside of work and had no impact on the employee’s job performance. This creates potential issues for employers when drug testing employees who have medical marijuana prescriptions, or in states where recreational marijuana is allowed.
Also, many states have laws that provide protections for engaging in legal off-duty conduct. These laws prohibit employers from considering an employee’s lawful conduct outside of work for purposes of making employment decisions. For example, in states where recreational marijuana is legal, the consumption of marijuana outside of work hours could be considered lawful off-duty conduct, and an employer could be prohibited from using an employee’s positive drug test for purposes of making an adverse employment decision. Although this issue remains largely untested by the courts, and employers are currently allowed to make certain employment decisions based on drug test results, we anticipate that employee drug test results will be challenged by lawful off-duty conduct laws in the years to come.
Furthermore, employers in a limited number of states may need to accommodate medical marijuana usage by employees. In those circumstances, employers are prohibited from making employment decisions based on an employee’s positive test result, depending on the nature of the employee’s particular position and job duties.
Pre-employment Drug Testing
Companies are generally allowed to require drug testing as a condition of employment, and can deny employment based on positive test results. However, some states limit pre-employment drug testing for medical marijuana users, and other states have anti-discrimination laws for pre-employment drug test results.
Interestingly, an increasing number of companies, including those in the craft beverage industries, are eliminating pre-employment drug testing because of difficulties it can pose in finding employees who can pass the test. As a result, some employers are softening their drug testing policies or removing marijuana from the list of drugs tested for. However, softening the stance on pre-employment marijuana drug testing may not be a viable option for companies with employees working in safety-sensitive positions, or companies with insurance policies or government contracts that specifically require employee drug testing.
Drug Testing During Employment
Employers may also consider random drug testing, reasonable suspicion drug testing, and post-accident drug testing of employees. Random drug testing is only allowed in some states and often limited to employees in specific, narrowly defined classifications – such as employees working in safety sensitive positions. Almost all states allow employers to drug test employees if there is reasonable suspicion that an employee is impaired on the job. Reasonable suspicion must be more than a hunch, and employers should be able to articulate the employee’s specific conduct or behaviors that led the employer to suspect impairment on the job. Employers can also conduct post-accident drug testing following a workplace injury or accident, but only for employees whose impairment or drug use could have contributed to the incident.
Overall, companies should review state-specific laws and consider the specific needs and challenges of their workforce when reviewing or revising drug testing policies and practices. And you should always put drug testing policies in writing, distribute to your employees, and enforce the policies uniformly.
Accommodation of Medical Marijuana Varies by State
Generally, employers do not need to accommodate medical marijuana in the workplace. However, this could soon change. Courts in several states have recently indicated that accommodating an employee’s medical marijuana use may be appropriate in certain situations. Employers already must engage their employees in the interactive process to explore reasonable accommodations for known disabilities of an employee. In some circumstances, this could mean accommodating medical marijuana use if it is determined to be a reasonable accommodation that does not create an undue hardship on the Company. Before doing so, however, employers should consult with qualified legal counsel.
Employers also need to be careful when disciplining medical marijuana users. Several states have specific laws protecting medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination. Medical marijuana patients in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, for example, have already won lawsuits against companies that rescinded job offers or fired workers because of positive tests for cannabis. Medical marijuana laws are continuing to evolve, and protections for medical marijuana users are likely to increase.
Conclusion – Best Practices
An increasing number of states have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, yet the federal government continues to classify marijuana as an illegal drug. This conflict between state and federal law is not likely to be resolved anytime soon. In the meantime, employers should follow several best practices to manage employees where marijuana has been legalized.
Companies should carefully review these issues and create policies that balance legal compliance with the specific needs of the business. Until the conflict between state and federal law is resolved, this includes:
Stay up to date with evolving marijuana laws.
Determine specific requirements for drug testing and medical marijuana in each state in which your company has employees.
Develop state-compliant workplace drug policies that are appropriate for your business.
Confirm your drug testing policies in writing, distribute to employees, and apply the policies uniformly.
Consider eliminating strict drug testing practices in favor of reasonable suspicion drug testing.
Determine if you will test applicants for marijuana use or not.
Contact legal counsel if any specific concerns or incidents arise within your workforce.
If your company follows these simple guidelines for managing employees in the wake of legalized marijuana, you will be in a good position to adapt while protecting your business as marijuana legalization continues to evolve in the coming years.
For questions on specific state laws, consult with an attorney.
Opening a craft brewery is a dream many people have turned into a reality. Getting to do all the fun stuff like branding new brews, using all the shiny new equipment, and networking with those who share the same passion. But then there are all the other, not-so-fun tasks that need juggling, like maintaining property and equipment, getting licenses, fitting out the brewery, ordering supplies and hiring staff. Only after wading through all this can a brewery finally get to the reason for it all: making great beer to be proud of.
Keeping motivations firmly in sight and visions on track is important, but so is being realistic about the potential risks business owners face. One bad batch. One slip and fall. One severe workplace injury. All of a sudden, a claim has occurred causing disruption, an interruption in the brewery’s operation, or even worse, there’s no coverage under any of the insurance policies in effect. There’s lost time, lost revenue needed to fuel the brewery operations, and — depending upon the nature of the claim — diminished customer confidence.
Easing the blow when any of this happens is simple: have the right insurance in place. The right coverages that are crafted to the needs of a specialized industry that cover a broad range of exposures.
“It is important to choose an insurance agent that has worked with many different breweries” says Colleen Croteau of Maine Beer Company. “James and the staff at GHM Craft provide exemplary customer service and a high level of industry knowledge. Maine Beer Company relies on GHM for our comprehensive business insurance needs, state compliance bonds, and general questions related to our employees, a recent expansion project, and routine business operations. Their experience in the brewing industry is evident in the knowledge and recommendations they provide.” Selecting an agent who understands the uniqueness and complexities of brewery operations and who can identify and fix coverage gaps is essential – it is important to understand that fixing coverage gaps is not necessarily reducing risk; instead, it is transferring risk to the insurer and away from the brewery.
This article will run through the most common brewery insurance gaps, explain how different types and levels of insurance can protect a business, and show how important it is to get the right insurance.
Insuring The Prized Possession: Beer
There are lots of upsetting things in the world, but for a brewery, a ruined or bad batch of beer – or worse, batches – is right up there. It can hit a pocketbook hard. Inventory will need to be replenished by brewing more and, naturally, bad beer can’t be sold so there won’t be any revenue coming in.
In this scenario, you need the right coverage, which can protect against contamination, spoilage, and tank leakage. Understanding how beer is insured will help determine proper limits and make sure everyone is on the same page if something goes wrong.
Keeping The Doors Open After A Claim Happens
When a loss to property happens, it is important to have the right coverage to help keep brewery doors open. Having a revenue stream, even if production is halted, is critical. Say, for example, a brewery closes unexpectedly due to a fire and production is shut down for weeks or months. Revenue ceases or significantly reduces. There will be no beer for customers today. What happens next could be a make or break situation.
While things are being repaired or rebuilt, breweries will need coverage that provides a continued flow of revenue to be able to pay key employees, cover overhead, debt service, and other ongoing operational expenses that will continue even though revenue from beer sales cease. And having coverage for extra expenses like temporary offices, warehousing, and other expenses a brewery will incur while rebuilding its facility is essential. There are coverages breweries can purchase to cover these exposures. If a brewery already has these coverages, limits should be reviewed, at least annually, to keep up with growing sales. Failing to do this means the level of coverage originally purchased may be outdated as the brewery has grown and expanded.
Understanding How Property Is Defined
One of the biggest assets in a brewery is where the magic happens: the property of a brewery (building, improvements, brewing equipment, etc). So, it needs to be insured correctly. Problems may arise because all property insurance policies define business property differently than the brewery owner, his or her contractors or accountant may define it.
Understanding the definition of what constitutes a building, as defined in an insurance policy, is critical. The definition of brewing equipment is also critical. If space is leased, understanding the definition of tenant fit-up is critical too. When writing a policy, it is important to have an agent who will work as part of the team to properly classify property.
Correctly classifying brewery property means a) getting the right level of insurance in each category, b) potentially saving money since insurance rates on the building can be lower than rates on other types of property and equipment, and c) properly classifying property increases the chances a claim will be settled fairly and satisfactorily.
The Complexities of Liability Coverage
Getting into the fine details of liability insurance is like individually counting every grain of barley put into making beer – there’s a lot to it. For broader liability coverage, having the help of an experienced brewery agent who can tailor the policy for a brewery’s specific operations can make a big difference. As an example, anyone who has a tap room or attends brewfests needs to pay attention to his or her liability coverage.
Opening the doors of a tap room to the public is a great source of revenue. However, breweries with tap rooms have more risk. Unfortunately, customers occasionally have a slip, trip or fall. And then there’s the person who visits a brewery at the end of a pub crawl for one last beer. He leaves and get into an accident on his way home and hurts himself and others. Will this brewery have the right coverage, and enough coverage, for these exposures?
Another tricky exposure to navigate is insurance for events and brewfests. It’s great exposure for any brewery but how is the insurance impacted? Event organizers routinely ask to be named as ‘additional insured’ on general liability insurance and, possibly, liquor liability. Typically someone from the brewery contacts the insurance agent to request a certificate of insurance and off it goes. What this now means is that the brewery’s general liability policy will be sharing its limit with the event organizer – and others who may be asked to be added to the policy – should a claim be made. In this scenario, imagine someone trips and gets hurt at the brewfest and it’s the brewery’s fault!
This person then sues the brewery and the event organizers. Again, since the event organizers are an ‘additional insured’ on the policy, the brewery is now sharing its limit with them, which means there may be less coverage to protect the brewery. Now, imagine if the brewery is asked to add the city/town, license holder, or others to its policy and everyone gets sued. Now the brewery’s limit may be shared by multiple parties. Where does that leave the brewery? A brewery insurance expert can offer solutions to this concerning situation.
Correctly Classifying A Liability Policy Matters
Different aspects of a brewery need to be classified differently, and correctly. These are called ‘liability classifications.’ Similar to property, brewery owners need to understand how liability classifications apply to the business and make sure sales are assigned correctly. These classifications need to be kept up to date as the brewery evolves and grows.
To give an example, the liability classification for beer sold in bottles is rated differently than beer sold in cans, and kegged beer is different again. Merchandise sales have a separate class too. Do brewery owners want to pay the higher rate on the sale of a t-shirt as they would for the sale of a beer? Probably not! Most breweries have four or five different liability classifications, but there could be more, and if there is a missing classification, coverage could be in question should a liability claim occur!
When policies are classified incorrectly, issues surface when an insurance company audits the policy. Because sales are estimated at the beginning of the policy term, if the final sales end up higher at the end of the policy term, the brewery will get a bill it did not budget for. And if sales are incorrectly classified, the audit could cost the brewery even more.
Making sure liability classifications are correct and up-to-date is important, something that is easily done with the help of a craft beer insurance specialist.
Navigating Employee Related Insurance
Employees are one of the greatest assets of any business, but they can also be one of the biggest exposures to every business:
Workers’ Compensation – Protecting a brewery and its employees for workplace injuries means getting workers’ compensation insurance. But like liability coverage, there are different classifications for the different jobs and roles in every business. Getting this right ensures there won’t be any surprises with a big audit, and that employees will be covered if they get hurt on the job. Another important note about workers’ compensation, if there are family or friends who volunteer at the brewery, there may not be coverage for this exposure.
Employment Practices Liability – Employees bring other exposures to businesses such as claims related to harassment, discrimination, salary disputes, or wrongful termination. Neither general liability nor workers’ compensation policies cover these exposures. An experienced brewery insurance agent can give advice and information needed to make well informed decisions on handling these exposures.
Navigating Vehicle Insurance
As a small brewery, having a delivery van may be a ways off. For larger breweries, using a distributor means someone else is delivering brew. In both cases it could mean that a brewery does not own any vehicles, but there could still be auto related exposures the business may be subjected to.
For example, many brewers use personal vehicles to deliver beer, run to the bank or commute to events. These are all business journeys. If there’s an accident while doing official beer business, anyone injured as a result can bring a suit against the owner of the vehicle and the brewery. This is because the vehicle was operating on behalf of the brewery at the time. Without the right type of auto insurance, the vehicle owner and/or the brewery may not be covered.
So even if the brewery doesn’t own a van, truck or car, it could be exposed when using other people’s vehicles for company business. It’s worth discussing this exposure with an agent who has expertise with insuring breweries.
The Added Extras
These areas of insurance are just the froth on the pint. When it comes to insuring a craft brewery there are other potential gaps:
Data protection and cyber security
Theft — both physical & of intellectual property.
And Let’s Not Forget A Non-Insurance Exposure … Human Resources
As if there aren’t already enough exposures facing brewery owners but the importance of solid HR protocols are just as important and should never be overlooked. Things like properly completed I-9 forms, ADA compliant job applications and job descriptions, and a properly written personnel manual are just a few of the priorities when it comes to HR compliance.
All of this may feel overwhelming but building the right team of advisors, including an insurance agent who has expertise with insuring breweries, can make the process much less complicated so at the end of the day, after a couple cold brews, brewery owners can go to bed feeling comfortable that should something bad happen at the brewery the right insurance is in place to put the pieces back together and get back to brewing great beer. Cheers!
Craft beverage consumers are often quick to judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a beer by its packaging. The quality of beer comes first and foremost, but how a beer looks on retail shelves can also drive or sink a brewery’s profits. Packaging machines are useful to breweries for many reasons, including efficiently and attractively packaging beer and cans in cartons. Depending on the size of a brewery’s operations and its goals, these machines range from small hand machines to huge mass production models.
Uses of Brewery Packaging Equipment
These days, very few breweries are packaging their products by hand. Manual processing isn’t fast enough to keep up with demand, but unlike mechanization in the wine industry, there isn’t a strong stigma regarding breweries using machines.
For breweries, packaging equipment comes in the form of case packers and uncasers, can cartoners, case erectors and partition inserters. Innovative companies have developed robotic case packers to pack products into cases and trays, as well as multi-lane diverters to configure cans in the desired format for multi-packs. It may save time and labor if breweries use cartoners that convey, collate, and package cans into multi-pack cartons that are built and glue-sealed.
Meanwhile, other packaging machines work as case and carton sealers, stretch and shrink wrappers, and label applicators. Wrap-around tray packers are commonly used for beer bottles and cans, tray-formers are used for rollover locking, and open-top glue trays are used for 24-count trays of bottles or cans. Large brewery operations typically rely on fully integrated systems that include many of these features including product conveyors, uncasing, single-filling conveyors, lane dividers, dividing wheels, star wheels and sealing equipment.
Benefits of Packing Machines for Breweries
In the early stages of operations or for small and niche breweries, manual packaging may be the preferred operational method, or at least a good starting point. Packaging bottles and cans manually can serve as a preliminary method before growing and saving up for a more automated system. Temporary and transitional packaging services are available for breweries looking to outsource this type of work. However, having your own packaging line typically saves money in the long run and gives brewers greater control over their products.
Packaging machines provide breweries with speed, consistency and efficiency on their packing line, saving employees time and the brewery money. Packaging machines also help a brewery reduce packaging costs, ensure a more consistent appearance, and promote good hygiene to prevent beer contamination. Consistent, well-placed packaging can reinforce and strengthen a brewery’s particular brand and help establish brand recognition and loyalty among consumers.
Top Packaging Machines in the Industry
Packaging machines are used in a wide variety of industries, including food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, industrial products, and non-food consumer goods. In a market with so many choices, some companies now cater to the highly specific needs of breweries.
Based in Brewerton, New York, Schneider Packaging provides case and tray packaging, case sealing, palletizing, and complete end-of-line solution services for its customers. For the beverage industry, Schneider’s gable top packing solution is the stand-out solution designed to run at speeds matching the fastest filling systems. Meanwhile, Schneider incorporates FANUC robotics to create flexible palletizing solutions to meet facility and production requirements. The latest innovations used include ProAdjust technology to increase uptime, patent-pending Intelligent Illumination to maintain case packers, and the proprietary OptiStak software to optimize and simplify pallet generation. Other industries Schneider serves are dairy, food, industrial/chemical/household, paper, personal care/cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and plastics.
Douglas Machine Inc., a packaging solutions company based in Alexandria, Minnesota, specializes in high-quality automated packaging solutions for paperboard, corrugated and shrink-film. Douglas is a 100 percent employee-owned company that has installed more than 9,000 machines in at least 30 countries.
“Douglas provides paperboard horizontal cartoning, RSC, and wrap-around case-packing and tray, shrink, pad/film and film only packaging machinery for the brewery industry at a variety of line speeds and configurations,” said Brenda Larson, Marketing Communications Manager at Douglas Machine.
Meanwhile, in Eugene, Oregon, PakTech is a full-service manufacturing company that delivers environmentally sustainable packaging solutions to the craft beer industry.
“Our handles are simple to grab, carry, and remove your product using a 100 percent recycled handle,” PakTech Sales Manager, Keenan Hoar, told Beverage Master Magazine. “PakTech’s minimalistic design and extensive color options highlight your brand and eliminate the need for obscuring artwork with other types of packaging.”
Hoar also said PakTech offers automated application versatility for flexible production requirements.
“You can apply the handles by hand if you’re a startup or have a limited volume requirement,” he said, “or you can utilize their automated applicators ranging in speed from 120 cans per minute to over 1,500 cans per minute if you have a higher speed operation.”
Accutek Packaging Equipment Companies, Inc. is headquartered in Vista, California but has locations in Irving, Texas and Fort Myers, Florida as well. One of the largest privately-held packaging machinery manufacturers in the U.S., Accutek is a leading manufacturer and developer of complete turnkey packaging solutions. It offers consumers everything from filling to capping machines, conveyors, labeling and sleeving machines, and complete packaging systems.
Vice President Drake Chocholek told Beverage Master Magazine that Accutek often helps start-up companies make the best decisions for their operations. By partnering with a company experienced in this field, brewery owners can better assess whether potential packaging machines are easy to maintain, clean, adjust and upgrade.
“For example, a lot of new producers don’t know there are different grades of quality for glass bottles, or they may not know about bottle washers or rinsers used for cleaning containers before filling,” Chocholek said.
To take this a step further, Chocholek told us about the essential checklist his company uses to help new customers understand their full scope of operations and to make packaging simpler and more affordable.
“After we find out the product and container sizes, we ask them what their budget is, how fast they want the machinery to go, and if they’re in the market for more than one piece of machinery,” he said.
What Breweries are Using and Why
Aaron Williams of Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta, Georgia told Beverage Master Magazine his brewery specializes in brewing balanced beers for weeknights that pair well with food. Monday Night Brewing opened up its second facility, The Garage, in September 2017 to feature its barrel-aged, sour, and experimental beers. This addition came with an upgrade in equipment.
“We recently upgraded to a 24/4 CFT canning line that we are running at about 250 cans per minute,” Williams said. “We use hi-cone rings packed into trays because it uses the least amount of packaging.”
Meanwhile in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Marble Brewery’s president and brewmaster, Ted Rice, told us about the packaging system that his team currently uses.
“We use a 12-head CFT for canning,” Rice said. “From the CFT, the 12-ounce cans run to a Switchback cartoner for six or 12 packs. The cans can also run to an American Canning Machine PakTech applicator.”
However, finding the best options for machines that carton beer bottles and cans seem to be more of a challenge for breweries.
“Right now, we don’t do any bulk beers in cartons but are actively looking at machines to handle this in a more automated system,” Williams of Monday Night Brewing said. “There are many machines, but it doesn’t seem there is a clear winner based on conversations with other breweries. We currently hand-package our limited sampler packs.”
Douglas Machine may have the solution, however, since they offer a variety of cartoning machinery models that fit a wide range of canning and bottling line speeds and pack configurations.
“For lower speed lines, the intermittent motion Vantra offers an unparalleled speed of 40 plus cartons per minute with range capabilities offering of four to 24 count flexibility,” Larson said. “For higher speed lines, Douglas offers the Spectrum in many models for mid-high-speed lines with speeds up to 250 cartons per minute. The Vantra and Spectrum Center Select offer flexibility to run different diameter and height cans, while the cost-effective Spectrum Center Select offers mid-high-speed capability on a single can diameter capability at a very cost-effective price.”
How to Choose the Right Packaging System
As with every decision made in a brewery, owners must make considerations before investing in a packaging system. Short-term and long-term costs, ease of ongoing maintenance, opportunities for customizable design, integration with existing bottle and can filling systems, as well as choosing the correct machine size are only a handful of things to analyze before purchasing.
Breweries can also reduce their carbon footprint and sustain more eco-friendly operations if they choose packaging products made from 100 percent recycled materials.
“Our products provide an end market for recycled HDPE, helping the economy and environment by providing jobs and keeping plastics out of the landfills and oceans while providing a second life for recycled HDPE plastic,” said Gary Panknin, PakTech’s Sustainability Officer. “Our handle recycling program also provides the opportunity for breweries to participate in keeping our products in the recycling stream and out of the waste stream.”
According to Panknin, 102,592,428 milk jugs were kept out of landfills and repurposed into PakTech handles in 2018, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. “In total, we have diverted 338,267,223 milk jugs from entering the waste stream, kept 20,973 tons of plastic out of the landfills and oceans, and saved 17.90-acre feet of land from being used as landfills for waste,” he said.
PakTech’s system isn’t merely a sustainability badge of honor, however. “The PakTech applicator makes our line far more efficient, and our operators do not experience wrist fatigue from manually applying the PakTech,” said Rice of Marble Brewery. “Having the Switchback cartoner allows our brands to have a clean billboard on the shelves. Using the PakTech allows us to run smaller volumes of seasonals in shrink sleeve cans without designing a carton with its associated costs and minimums.”
Williams of Monday Night Brewing suggests brewers ensure that any company they partner with for packing is credible and trustworthy.”I think the key is to really do your homework and ask around,” he said. “Find out who uses the equipment you’re interested in, what the manufacturer support is like, and if the manufacturer really will stand behind it for the long term. I’ve talked to many breweries that got a great up-front price on their equipment only to find the supplier didn’t really stand behind it.”
With this in mind, Mike Brewster of Schneider Packaging Equipment advises breweries “to do their due diligence on what they foresee their operation looking like in the future. Today, more than ever, consumer trends in the marketplace are changing at a rapid pace. With that, it is critical to align with a manufacturer who offers flexible and scalable solutions to assist you as your operation encounters changes.”
Concerning functionality, Hoar of PakTech said that his team looks at the fill rate when helping a brewery choose the right application for its operations. “It is extremely easy to manually apply PakTech carriers, yet the feasibility of doing so is all dependent on volume,” he said. “It is necessary to look at the cost of utilizing employees to apply the handle against the return on investment of our automated solutions.”
Hoar emphasizes the importance of packaging presentation as well because “by focusing on originality and creative expression, breweries have turned artwork into brand identity.” He also points out the need to know your brewery’s customers and consider portability and sustainability when choosing packaging products because many customers care about these things.
“We understand that many customers have a ‘pack it in, pack it out’ mentality, and we need to support the idea of a circular economy in any capacity,” Hoar said.
Finally, Larson of Douglas Machine recommends that breweries consider future packing patterns and configurations when specifying packaging systems for canning and bottling lines.
“Too often, brewers will select machinery based upon their immediate pack patterns or speeds, therefore buying a machine that cannot handle future pack patterns and speeds due to a lack of flexibility in some machinery offerings,” Larson said. “Additionally, the robustness of machinery is critical as brewers grow their operation and volumes increase to the point they need to add production shifts. It is imperative to consider the design and build design to ensure that a packaging system they purchase is robust enough to run multiple shifts, seven days per week. Initial low costs are long forgotten when experiencing poor or inconsistent performance.”
Don’t want to leave the party to pick up the missing ingredients to make your signature cocktail or to try a new recipe? Wish you had options to save time, or you don’t want to head out into the elements to go pick up your favorite alcoholic beverages? Canadians can now enjoy greater options for their alcoholic beverage home delivery, including a wider selection of craft beverage products with Drizly.
In Canada, liquor laws are regulated by each province individually, and some have permitted home delivery of wine beer and spirits for decades. The original alcohol delivery service, Dial a Bottle, was taking orders by phone and delivering bottles before apps or even the internet existed. Today, the home delivery marketplace is flooded with options that make home delivery of alcohol nearly as easy as Uber Eats, and the competition is fierce, leading to lower delivery fees and extra service perks. E-Commerce companies are working with the complete inventory of local, leading liquor retailers and delivering them within 60 minutes to adults of legal drinking age at their homes and even to their offices.
Amazon for Liquor
Drizly, a pioneer and the world’s first and largest alcohol e-commerce marketplace is now launching their services in the city of Vancouver, the province of Alberta, and throughout 26 U.S. states. They’ve been called the “Amazon for Liquor” or “Uber Liquor,” and their approval to operate in Vancouver has been noted as quite the accomplishment, considering that legislative regulation has so far prevented the actual Uber from being allowed within the entire province. Drizly has already been serving consumers in parts of the neighboring province of Alberta for over two years.
Drizly works with local retailers, including Liquor Depot, to bring adults of legal drinking age a wide selection of beer, wine and spirits, with delivery in under 60 minutes through Drizly.com and the Drizly app.
By providing access to inventories from local retailers in each market, the service gives customers a wide selection of beer, wine and spirits at reasonable market prices. In addition to a wide variety of adult beverages, Liquor Depot’s range of popular soft drinks, juices, ice and other mixers, are also be available on the Drizly platform. Customers schedule a delivery or in-store pickup. The Drizly’s mobile app and website are deep wells of information, offering cocktail recipes, pro tips and popular adult beverage trends.
Delivery in Vancouver is a flat $4.99, and customers have to purchase a minimum of $20 worth of products from Liquor Depot and Liquor Barn to qualify for delivery.
Simplified Age Verification
Alcanna, formally known as Liquor Stores N.A. Ltd., is North America’s largest publicly traded alcoholic beverage retailer and includes a chain of more than 240 stores operating in Alberta, British Columbia, Kentucky and Alaska, with both Liquor Depot and Liquor Barn under its banner. They carry a vast selection of craft beers, ciders and spirits, some of which are not available in provincially run liquor stores.
Although other liquor delivery services exist in the area, Drizly’s verification software ensures that liquor is kept out of the hands of minors. Age verification made the service even more appealing to Alcanna when it was looking for a platform to sell its products on demand.
“Vancouver has been thirsting for everything that Drizly facilitates, not least online access to our vast inventory, an intuitive shopping experience and the convenience of delivery in under an hour. It’s a win-win in every sense of the term,” Fran Coons, Vice President of Operations at Alcanna said in a press release.
By equipping retailers with technology that can verify age and identification, Drizly helps business owners protect their liquor licenses. Their retail partners are provided with a device to scan barcodes on official forms of identification. Drizly’s proprietary ID verification technology enables delivery personnel to verify IDs with accuracy that goes well beyond a manual review. The scans collect the customer’s name, date of birth and the ID expiry date, and the device can determine whether the ID is authentic. Once age and identity are confirmed, the scanned information is deleted from Drizly’s records, so there is no concern about collection or storage of personal information. Retailers aren’t required to use the device and can choose to use the scanner for every delivery or only when employees suspect the customer is underage.
Provincial regulations alcohol delivery services are required to follow under their licensing agreement do not allow delivery services to store liquor themselves. Instead, they must take orders from a verified adult, then purchase the order from a retailer or general merchandise liquor store licensees such as Liquor Barn or Liquor Depot, and deliver the liquor to the adult who ordered it at a place where it is lawful to store or consume. The delivery service license in Alberta is considered a Class D liquor license and costs $200 annually. In British Columbia, licensed establishments are permitted to sell their products online and deliver them to customers only between 9:00 am and 11:30 pm and orders must be delivered on the same day they were placed.
Additionally, in British Columbia, anyone involved in the selling or serving of alcoholic beverages is required to complete “Serving It Right” training. Serving It Right is British Columbia’s mandatory self-study course that teaches licensees, managers, sales staff and servers about their legal responsibilities when serving alcohol, and provides practical techniques to prevent problems related to over-service. This training is extended to and required for alcohol delivery personnel as well. All Drizly delivery drivers are Liquor Depot and Liquor Barn employees, so they go through the same training as in-store staff, knowing how to recognize whether someone should not be served and when a customer may be a minor.