Alva Mather is a member of Griesing Law LLC, where she works as a commercial litigator and trial attorney. She helps a wide range of clients from commercial startups to Fortune 500 companies. Throughout her years of practice, Mather has represented clients in the food, beverage, franchise and hospitality industries. The alcoholic beverage industry has grown rapidly over the last decade, and as a result, Mather assists clients with new and complicated challenges unique to the tightly regulated industry.
(Photo courtesy of Alva Mather)
I make beer and want to sell it. Do I need a license, and how do I apply?
If you intend to brew beer, other than for personal or family use, you first need to obtain a license from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau as well as from the state in which you will be brewing. While you can apply at the same time for both licenses, states generally wait for a brewer to obtain their federal license before issuing a related state license.
Can I sell my beer myself directly to customers?
While each state is different, generally most states now allow new, smaller breweries to sell their own products or to self-distribute directly to customers either at a brewery taproom or to retail accounts within their home state without first contracting with a beer wholesaler.
What is involved in selling my beer to customers in another state?
To sell beer outside of your home state, state laws require brewers to obtain an out-of-state brewery permit, enter into a distribution agreement with an in-state beer wholesaler to distribute their product and register all products with the state licensing department.
Are there any restrictions on what I can name and label my beer?
The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, as well as state licensing departments, impose certain restrictions on the labeling of beer, such as the inability to include flags, crests or references to the government or to make health-related statements regarding your beer. Further, beer names, like other brands, may have trademark protection which prohibit the ability for a new beer brand to use the same name or use a name similar enough that there may be consumer confusion as to whose brand it is.
This article was written by Robin D. Everson for Small Business Pulse