Livers Quake in Anticipation of Maine Liquor Price Changes

Listen up booze enthusiasts1: Maine is adjusting how it determines its cut of liquor sales, which will result in price changes on February 1 for a number of products.

A story by Darren Fishell of the Bangor Daily News contains the lowdown, along with some pretty cool charts. A couple of interesting takeaways:

  • The price of Allen’s Coffee Brandy, perennially Maine’s most popular liquor won’t change – except for the 375-milliliter size, which will increase by $.50;
  • The largest percentage decrease in price will come for Five O’clock Vodka’s 375-milliliter bottle. The shelf price for this item (unofficial motto: “The Vodka to Have When You’re Having More Than Four”) will drop 25% (from $6 to $4.49); and
  • The new pricing system sets a standard markup for spirits across a certain category and is designed to ensure predictability and a better deal for Mainers. Additionally, it’s designed to help the State compete with our hated neighbors in New Hampshire, whose lack of a sales tax allows them to play Lucy to Maine’s Charlie Brown and draws an estimated $30 million to $40 million away from Maine in revenue each year.

Check out the article for more detail on the changes.

1 Boozethusiasts (?) Did I just invent a word?

Deceptive Marketing Lawsuits Against Alcoholic Beverage Industry on the Rise

The number of lawsuits against alcoholic beverage manufacturers for alleged deceptive marketing grew again this past December, with both Guinness and Foster’s Beer facing new lawsuits in federal court. In Massachusetts, a consumer filed suit against Guinness alleging that the company improperly advertised that “all Extra Stout sold in North America is brewed in Ireland at historic St. James’ Gate Brewery in Dublin.”

In New York, a consumer filed a suit alleging that Foster’s marketing implied that the beer was brewed in Australia, based on its advertisements that featured actors with Australian accents and its slogans “Foster’s, Australian for Beer” and “How to Speak Australian.” Foster’s moved its brewing operations to Fort Worth, Texas in 2011, and a “misled” consumer is seeking compensation from Foster’s. (more…)

‘Tis the Season for Internship Nightmares

With college exams finalized we hear from many companies that bring on college interns for a few weeks in late December and early January. It provides clients with help to catch up on things that slipped through the cracks during the course of the year and provides the intern with a really sweet line on their resume—I mean who wouldn’t want to work in a brewery/distillery/or winery?

Insofar as the company is a small establishment, or simply operating with limited funds, the thought of an unpaid internship may be appealing—this blog post (unfortunately) is likely going to squash that unpaid intern dream for you. Over the last few years we have been seeing more and more lawsuits across the country from interns in coveted positions who are claiming that state and federal wage and hour laws have been violated, either for failure to pay the minimum wage and overtime, or failure to pay at all. (more…)

Potential Loans for Craft Beverage Producers to Upgrade Energy Efficiency or Install Renewable Energy Technology

In December of 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced that it was now accepting applications for its Rural Energy for America Program, a program to provide loans and grants to agricultural producers and small rural business for energy efficiency improvements or new renewable energy systems.

To qualify you must be an agricultural producer with at least 50% of gross income coming from agricultural operations or a small business in a qualified non-urban area. To see more detailed qualification requirements, review the program fact sheet here. (more…)

AB InBev-SABMiller Merger

By now, just about everyone has heard the news that AB InBev, the world’s largest beer producer, owner of Anheuser-Busch and many other brands, plans to acquire SABMiller, the second largest beer producer. The reception among those in the craft beer industry to this news has been chilly to say the least. In the United States, there is significant concern that any such merger will have anticompetitive effects, particularly focusing on the potential squeezing out of craft brewers on both supply of raw ingredients and the distribution of final products. The merger will undergo significant review by the United States Department of Justice to determine whether it violates U.S. Antitrust law. (more…)

Choosing the Right Corporate Structure

Welcome to Lawyers on Tap, a blog dedicated to keeping you up to date with the legal issues facing the craft beverage industry. As this is the first blog post, let me open by saying, hello from Verrill Dana. Our firm has been assisting those in the craft beverage industry for several decades. Over that time we have developed considerable experience dealing with the particular challenges facing the industry. In this blog we will hope to provide you with information on trends, issues, and interesting news related to the legal side of operating in this complex sector. Given that this is our first post here on the blog, it seems fitting to cover the first issue that faces every brewery, distillery, or winery, choosing a business structure. (more…)