In 2015, the Washington legislature passed a number of new laws that allow groceries, on-premises licensees, microbreweries, and wineries to exercise additional privileges. All of the following laws are now in effect:
- Growlers in Grocery (SSB 5280): Grocery store licensees that meet minimum alcohol sales or inventory requirements may now fill beer or cider growlers in stores. All taps must be operated by store employees who hold server permits, and stores must apply for an added endorsement to their license in order to take advantage of the new privilege.
- Beer and Wine Sampling (HB 1124): On-premises licensees may provide free beer and wine samples under two ounces with a limit of four samples per customer.
- Cider Sales in Microbrewery Tasting Rooms (HB 1342): Microbreweries may now purchase and sell cider produced by Washington state domestic wineries for consumption on or off premises.
- Winery Tasting Events (SSB 5596): Wineries can conduct up to 12 private tasting events per year to allow customers to taste and purchase its own wine.
New Distribution and Direct Shipment Privileges for Some Oregon Licensees
Beginning January 1, some Oregon licensees will enjoy new privileges related to distribution and direct shipment to consumers. Some of these privileges create reciprocity between the malt beverage and wine industries and there is speculation among industry professionals that these changes may be intended to get ahead of privatization of beverage sales.
Senate Bill 138 increases the quantity of beverages small brewers can sell at wholesale and distribute beverages produced by brewery-public house licensees up to 7,500 barrels per year. These same licensees will be able to distribute any amount of malt beverages to other premises they license and can distribute beverages for export.
Senate Bill 583 allows off-premises licensees to deliver malt beverages directly to consumers and to ship to consumers without the need for a direct shipper permit from OLCC. Brewery licensees will be able to sell growlers and beverages for off-premises consumption. Winery licensees with a direct shipper permit will be allowed to sell and ship malt beverages directly to consumers if they hold a direct shipper permit.
These new privileges will impact the choice of license for many new businesses just getting started in the industry and will allow existing licensees new options for revenue. The Saalfeld Griggs attorneys in the Wine, Beer, and Cider Industry Group advise new and existing producers and retailers on licensing and compliance with OLCC regulations and can assist you with questions you may have about these legislative changes.