California doesn’t seem to go out of their way very often to make things easier for craft breweries or those wanting to try new things in the beverage industry, but for once, they have eased the burden on many up-and-coming craft breweries.
With the signing of AB 1014 by California Governor Jerry Brown, breweries are now exempt from having to follow the unnecessary and burdensome building requirements designed for food facilities for their tasting rooms, where only beer will be poured. Previously, breweries wishing to have a tasting room at their brewery would be required to follow the same requirements which would often lead to tens of thousands dollars worth of improvements such as installing several industrial sinks and redoing electrical wiring and plumbing.
The Lost Abbey brewery in San Marcos, California ran into this very issue last year when the Health Department handed them a cease and desist order to stop tasting room operations. The Health Department told them they had been operating illegally for the previous four years without the required health permit, while the Alcohol Control Board said they were 100% in compliance with the license they were issued four year prior. Luckily for The Lost Abbey, the Health Department would either receive a lot of complaints about their targeting of the tasting room or realize they don’t know what they’re doing (or both) and dropped their cease and desist, just days before The Lost Abbey began cutting concrete and making the necessary changes to be in “compliance”.
Back to AB 1014, “This bill will relieve craft brewers from the unnecessary burden of installing restaurant grade equipment that simply isn’t needed to pour a taste of beer,” said Tom McCormick, Executive Director of the California Small Brewers Association. “This is a common sense law that garnered bipartisan support at the Capitol. Yet another example that good beer brings people together.”
The bill, authored by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego and Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, passed both the Senate and Assembly floor votes unanimously.
“We are an industry the state can be proud of,” said McCormick. “Craft brewers by nature tend to have environmentally sound practices, we employ a lot of people and we give back to our communities in many ways.”