Alcohol Regulation Roundup: April 27, 2011

National: Seventeen state attorneys general are asking Pabst Brewing Co. to lessen the alcohol content of its new “Blast” product. Blast, the 12 percent abv malt beverage is sold in 23.5 ounce cans and supposedly targeted toward young drinkers. Will Blast go the way of Four Loko?

California: California is set to ban energy drinks containing alcohol. State Senator Alex Padilla’s bill passed the senate on Monday and now awaits a general Assembly vote.

Colorado: Once again, the liquor store lobby wins in Colorado. After four consecutive years, the bill to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer once again died in the state Senate.

Florida: Two proposed bills, if passed, would make it more difficult and expensive for wineries to get the necessary licensing to directly ship their wines to individual consumers in Florida. The bills would require a $250 licensing fee from each winery, and require them to file a monthly report with the state with information on brands, quantity, and the price of wines shipped within the state. The bills also prohibit wineries that sell more than 250,000 gallons a year from any direct shipping in the state.

Illinois: A bill proposed in the Illinois General Assembly, which had the support of craft brewers, would allow craft breweries to distribute their own product in the state, but would exclude larger brewers from doing the same. Anheuser-Busch is rightfully arguing that it should also have the right to self-distribute in Illinois.

Of note: Since the bill was amended, it has lost support from the craft beer movement in the state.

Indiana: It looks like a push to allow cold beer in grocery stores in the state and Sunday sales of liquor won’t make it through the state legislature this year despite overwhelming consumer support.

Michigan: Michigan’s Governor Rick Synder approved a new law last week that would allow caterers with the right licensing to provide alcohol at events they cater — even if they aren’t on the business’s premises.

Minnesota:  Earlier this month the State Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee unanimously approved a bill that would change the state’s outdated laws allowing breweries in the state to sell directly to consumers at the brewery. The push is backed by Brooklyn Center-based Surly brewery, which wants to build a $20 million brew pub and entertainment center. A couple of weeks later a similar billed made it through the House Commerce Committee. It now heads for full Senate and House votes.

Washington: The Washington State legislature approved three bills modifying and liberalizing state alcohol laws. The first bill allows customers to fill up their “growlers” (aka beer jugs) with “local brews on tap” at retail stores where previously only pubs and taverns were allowed to do so. The second bill permits Washington wineries and breweries to offer tastings at farmers markets. The third bill allows restaurants to waive corkage fees for patrons wishing to bring in their own wine to dine with.

Georgia: A bill that would allow Georgia residents decide whether or not they should have Sunday alcohol sales heads to the Governor’s desk after passing the state House earlier this month. Governor Nathan Deal has said he will sign the bill.