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McBrayer Blogs

SB 11 Brings a Host of Changes to Kentucky Alcohol Law

On March 29th, the Kentucky legislature moved to make changes to Kentucky alcohol laws through the passage of Senate Bill 11, a nod of apparent recognition towards the importance of Kentucky’s burgeoning hospitality tourism industry, and Gov. Bevin signed the bill into law on April 9th. Rather than a sweeping bill of changes, SB 11 represents incremental steps sought by the industry to foster increased economic impact and better tourism experiences through a step away from Prohibition-era regulations. Brewers, wineries and distillers all stand to benefit at least somewhat from the changes. More >

Contract Brewing in a Nutshell

The brewing world has come a long way over the past ten years.  Local breweries are an everyday part of our lives providing a wide variety of product on a local, regional and national level to even the most novice of beer drinkers.  As a result of this boon, there are endless opportunities to become a part of the craft beer movement.  One of these opportunities is afforded through the concept of contract brewing. Contract brewing is a burgeoning trend whereby an aspiring, or existing, brewer contracts with another brewery to brew and package beer on their behalf. This may be done for several reasons, such as the desire for a small business to get its foot into the brewing door, the expanded capacity or bottling ability of the contract brewer.  The Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”), which oversees many federal alcohol regulations, considers contract brewing arrangements to be “ordinary commercial agreements.” As alcohol production is a highly-regulated industry, there are still, of course, several regulations and considerations in place with respect to brewing beer on a contract basis, so what follows is a brief overview of the various federal law issues at play. More >

Fudging a Five-Star Rating – Can It Hurt?

An online reputation can make or break a business. Though word-of-mouth is still important, most consumers today take to the Internet when looking for a place to shop, eat, vacation, or play. It is no surprise, then, that businesses want to boost their online ratings and garner gleaming reviews on sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon, and the like. Is there really any harm in requiring an employee to post a positive review under a fake name? How about paying a stranger to sing your business’s praises, even if he or she has never used its services? It may seem like a harmless form of self-promotion, but engaging in this practice can be illegal and very expensive. More >

Lexington Approves Minimum Wage Ordinance

Per the Bluegrass Hospitality Association:

“As you have probably already heard, the local minimum wage ordinance was approved by Council (9 to 6) at last night’s meeting.

The ordinance will increase minimum wage in Fayette County to the following on the below dates:

July 1, 2016                 $8.20

July 1, 2017                 $9.15

July 1, 2018                 $10.10

There was over two hours of public comment prior to the almost 9:00 PM vote.  As expected, there were passionate pleas and points both in support and against. More >

The Basics of Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws

I.              Introduction

Since the end of Prohibition, states have traditionally dealt with the issue of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) laws in one of two ways, either through full state regulation of the sale of alcohol or through a three-tier system of production, distribution and sale. With the abuses of the industry fresh in their minds, policymakers after Prohibition set about finding ways to keep alcohol from becoming a societal problem through careful regulation.  In Kentucky, the three-tier system is paramount, and that principle has been consistently affirmed by key court cases and legislation. These materials will provide an overview of the three-tier system in Kentucky with discussions of relevant cases and legislative changes. More >

Kentucky’s Microbreweries, Small Farm Wineries and Craft distilleries Are Growing by Leaps and Bounds, but is the Law Catching Up?

The winds of change may be blowing in favor of small alcohol producers in Kentucky lately, but perhaps those winds could blow just a bit harder. In the midst of the phenomenal growth of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and "alcohol tourism," the legislative bent of the Commonwealth of Kentucky lately seems poised to also encourage the proliferation of microbreweries, small farm wineries and craft distilleries. New laws and legislative considerations that permit certain retail privileges for small producers are a relatively new wrinkle in the state’s alcoholic beverage control (“ABC”) laws, and may reflect a growing shift in state alcohol policies that reflect and adapt to the growing economic benefit of both craft producers and alcohol-related tourism. At the same time, Kentucky is careful to uphold a strong three-tier system where larger producers are concerned, drawing a line separating economic benefit and tourism versus vertical integration and excessive top-heavy control by large distillers and breweries. Under these recent laws, small wineries and malt beverage producers may engage in modest retail activities that would ordinarily be restricted to them in the interest of furthering a thriving craft economy, but questions remain as to whether these laws go far enough in encouraging the growth of Kentucky’s craft producers, and even those of our iconic Bourbon distilleries, whose own retail privileges remain relatively limited. More >

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