Beer Distributor Appeals NLRB Finding as to Terminated Union Employee Who Reeked of Marijuana

Appellate briefing to the Second Circuit was completed earlier this week in Manhattan Beer Distributors LLC v. NLRB, a case in which the NLRB, in 2015, held that Manhattan Beer Distributors violated an employee’s Weingarten rights when they terminated a distribution employee who “reeked” of marijuana after he refused to submit to a drug test without a union representative present.

In NLRB v. J. Weingarten Inc. (1975), the U.S. Supreme Court held that an employee has a statutory right to request a union representative during an investigative interview which the employee reasonably believes could result in disciplinary action. In the current action, the question was whether the submission to a drug test was “an investigatory interview” which would thus result in the employee having Weingarten rights. (more…)

Funding Your “Pipe” Dream – Crowdfunding in the Craft Brewing Scene

In a story drawn from the dreams of a back-packing college student, the Associated Press reports that Belgian brewery owner Xavier Vanneste used crowdfunding to help finance development of a two-mile pipeline to pump thousands of gallons of beer each day from his brewery in historic Bruges, Belgium to an industrial zone for bottling.

While building a pipeline seems better suited for oil barons than a Belgian brewer, Venneste’s offer of dividends in the form of one bottle of beer each day for the rest of your life seems to have foamed the fancy of many a European beer enthusiast.

So could crowdfunding turn your craft brewing “pipe” dream into a reality? (more…)

Birds on Tap – Yup, That’s a Thing

Nothing goes better with a cold one than a bird. Think about it – fried chicken, wings – nothing takes down a case of beer munchies like . . .

(Hold on, I’m being told that this blog post is supposed to be about the growing popularity of combining bird watching with craft brewery tours.)

At any rate, our good friends at the Maine Brew Bus are again teaming up with Derek Lovitch of Freeport Wild Bird Supply to offer a series of tours throughout the year that will allow you dear reader, to check out some of the finest fowl our great state has to offer while simultaneously visiting some great local breweries.

Details about last year’s Birds on Tap events here. For this year’s tour dates, check out this and this.

No promises, but if you go to one of these events, I think we all know what you’ll be saying.

Whiskey Distilled from Beer? Yes, Please!

Cool story in yesterday’s Portland Press Herald about collaboration between a couple of prominent locals: Liquid Riot has distilled some leftover Sebago Brewing beer (Bonfire Rye ale) to produce a whiskey-like liquor called Bonfire Spirit. Starting April 28th, Sebago will be selling it at its four brewpubs. One catch: there are just 200 12-ounce bottles so it will go fast.

The PPH story details the process in which Sebago and Liquid Riot ended up working together on the creation and also recaps some of the other cross pollination that goes on in the local scene between bars, brewers and distillers.

All and all, some nice publicity for Sebago and Liquid Riot and a good look at the history of southern Maine brewers working with their colleagues/competitors.

New England Brew Summit

This coming Friday, April 1st (insert obligatory April Fools joke), The Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine will serve as host for the first ever New England Craft Brew Summit. I hope all of our readers will have a chance to attend as the event looks to be incredibly informative and, obviously, a really great time.

But I think this event speaks to a larger point that is incredibly important for our community. Craft beverage makers are having an impact on the New England economy that extends far beyond their tasting rooms or storefronts. The number of supporting industry members attending speaks for itself. But it is great to see that this opportunity for Maine and New England at large is attracting the attention of some of our politicians, as both Senator Angus King and Representative Chellie Pingree will be in attendance at the event. All in all, it looks to be a great time, and the event bodes well for the growth of the craft beer and alcoholic beverage industry in New England.

Want to Operate a Tasting Room? You’ll Need to Pay Up First.

The Portland City Council voted on Monday to require Portland breweries to pay a $500 fee to operate their tasting rooms. According to the Portland Press Herald article linked below, Councilor Suslovic believes the city has a legitimate public safety concern in regulating tasting rooms. The vote is likely also in response to recent complaints from bar owners, who feel the breweries have an advantage over bars. Regardless of the reasons for the vote, the license requirement goes into effect next month.

Portland Press Herald article here: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/21/portland-imposes-500-fee-on-breweries-with-tasting-rooms/

Will Mass. Pay to Play Scandal Affect Maine Brewers?

A ruling involving the business practices of a Massachusetts-based beer distributor may keep Maine-brewed beers out of bars, restaurants and other retailers for 90 days.

On Friday, the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission suspended the Craft Brewers Guild’s license for 90 days for engaging in a scheme in which the company gave money to bars in greater Boston to serve specific beers. CBG distributes beers for a number of Maine craft brewers, including Allagash, Sebago Brewing, Gritty McDuff’s, Geary’s and Maine Beer Company.

Stories here (playing up the Maine aspect of the ruling) and here (more Boston-centric and discussing CBG’s business practices in depth). The decision should be here, however, as of the time we posted, the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission had not yet made it available.

NYT: Blue Ox is Good for Planet

Cool story recently that gave some national publicity to a local business.

Saturday’s Times reported on cover crops – noncash crops that farmers plant between harvests to improve soil health and manage erosion. Part of the story discussed Lisbon Falls’ own Blue Ox Malthouse, including a quote from founder Joel Alex about helping farmers make money off their cover crops

Story here. More on Blue Ox here and here. More on cover crops/environmentally sustainable farming here.

Nuts and Bolts of Registering Your Brewery Name

We have previously covered the process for developing your brewery/distillery/winery’s name, including the essential step of clearance. Once you have found and cleared the perfect name, the next step is to protect it. The best way to protect your name is by registering it as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The first step in the registration process is determining what type of mark you are going to register. There are two broad types of marks: standard character marks or stylized marks. A standard character mark protects the word or words you are using, without reference to the font, size, color, shape, etc. of the characters. In contrast, a stylized mark is designed to protect more specialized marks, such as an artistic logo or stylized fonts, shapes, colors. A standard mark provides protection for your name, preventing others from using the words you have registered no matter how they attempt to dress or stylize them. If you have developed a company name and an associated logo, often times it makes sense to register both the words (as a standard character mark) and the logo itself as a stylized mark. (more…)

Portland to Beer Drinkers: Get Your Snack On

Now that’s what we’re talkin bout.

Reversing one of the worst decisions of all time, officials in beer Mecca Portland, Maine, (known principally as the home to this humble blog), will now allow breweries located in the City’s industrial zones to sell prepackaged food at their tasting rooms. Appears, however, that this victory for snack enthusiasts will come with a price – literally. In conjunction with permitting food sales, the City looks set to create a new license for breweries, distilleries and wineries, which will cost them an additional $500.

Stories here and here.