Category Archives: Alcoholic Beverage Law

The Uncertain Fate of Alcohol in Egypt


Posted by Adam Johnson on April 18, 2013.

Last summer, I had the pleasure of living in Cairo, Egypt, during a very interesting time in its history.  The 2011 revolution and subsequent election were a demonstration of Egypt’s internal tension between multiple competing, seemingly inconsistent interests.  Though predominantly Muslim, Egypt is home to millions of Coptic Christians1 as well as the world’s fifth-largest urban refugee population.2  Moreover, tourism is very important to the Egyptian economy, influencing both political decisions and individuals’ opinions about the effects of conservative law.3  This all comes to a head through political tension between religious fundamentalism, commitment to heritage, and recognition of economic necessity.

Post-election, many in Cairo shared a spirit of hope for the future, while also recognizing a whole host of uncertainties.  One of the more interesting uncertainties was the fate of alcohol under this new system, and what impact a stronger Muslim Brotherhood political presence would have on the availability of alcohol.  In this post, I’d like to briefly discuss the history of alcohol in Egypt, its evolution to its current status, and then share some observations on how it relates to the still-uncertain Egyptian political climate. Continue reading

New Hampshire’s Nano Brewery Law Supports Local Craft Brews

Five Squam Beers

Posted by Peter Raymond on March 7, 2013.

The availability of craft beers has seen a dramatic rise in in the United States in recent years.  Thirty years ago there were less than 100 breweries throughout the United States, while today there are over 2,000.1  Many of these new breweries are centered in microbrew friendly areas such as the Northeast and Northwest.  While craft brewing currently accounts for only about five percent of the market share of national beer sales, this number is growing.  Threatened by the rising popularity of independent breweries, the largest beer producers in the U.S., AB Inbev (Budweiser) and SABMiller (MillerCoors), have attempted to recapture some of the craft brew market by producing their own pseudo-craft beer, like Budweiser’s Shock Top and Coor’s Blue Moon.  The beer giants have also bought smaller breweries, such as Henry Weinhard2 and Goose Island, and operate them under their original label.  But despite misleading marketing by these beverage giants, truly independent craft breweries continue to see an increased following.3

New Hampshire, a state known for its cheap alcohol and state-run liquor stores on its highways,4 has enacted legislation aimed to encourage development of small scale brewing.  In 2011 the legislature passed the nation’s first nano brewery law, recognizing nano breweries as a separate class and providing several exemptions from the standard brewery requirements.5  Before this law, all brewers in the state, regardless of their size, had to apply for a beverage manufacturer license. Continue reading

Coors’ Real Silver Bullet: The First Amendment


Posted by Matt Hasvold on February 21, 2013

While many consumers today take for granted that they can look at the alcohol content on a beer label, this wasn’t always so.  Following the repeal of Prohibition, Congress found it necessary to strictly regulate the country’s newly-legal vice with the 1935 Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAAA).  Among the Act’s rules was a provision that prohibited the printing of alcohol content on beer labels.1  Brewers were limited by this rule for several decades until 1987, when Coors Brewing Company finally raised a challenge.  Coors applied to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) for approval of proposed labels and advertisements that disclosed the alcohol content of its beer.  When the ATF denied the application, Coors brought suit seeking injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment that the labeling ban violated the First Amendment’s free speech protections.2 Continue reading

Liquor Licenses: A Drinker Rethinks Larkin v. Grendel’s Den


Posted by Matthew Cavedon on February 14, 2013

In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Massachusetts statute that gave churches a veto over liquor licenses granted to establishments within five hundred feet of their premises.1 In Larkin v. Grendel’s Den, Inc., a Harvard Square pub brought suit after its license request was vetoed by its then-neighbors at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Armenian Church.2  The Court ruled in the pub’s favor, holding that the statute violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by unconstitutionally creating a “fusion of governmental and religious functions.”3  At first blush, Larkin looks like a triumph for drinkers over puritan busybodies.  Reasonably enough, Grendel’s Den celebrates it as one—a newspaper clipping from the day of the decision is framed on their wall.  The Court found it troubling that Massachusetts “delegate[d] to private, nongovernmental entities power to veto” liquor licenses4—a concern that could reasonably be shared by drinkers across the land, from Mormon areas of Utah to the dry county in Tennessee where the Jack Daniels distillery is located.

But like beer goggles wearing off, Larkin gets worse for drinkers as one’s thinking gets clearer.  Its denial of veto powers for churches ultimately meant that places hoping to serve alcohol could no longer negotiate with churches over their rights, even though states and cities can still have laws banning alcohol near churches altogether.  By kicking alcohol licensing back directly to the government, Larkin stopped churches and drinkers from reaching decisions together.  As is true enough for the aftermath of many alcohol-related decisions, Larkin is not as helpful a case as it seemed at the time. Continue reading

The Legacy of 3.2% Beer

We Want Beer

Posted by Russ Heller on February 7, 2013

Beer is on the upswing.  A quirkily-curated beer list is now a must at any respectable restaurant, and craft beer is exploding.  Indeed, craft beer sales revenues jumped 14% in the first half of 2012 alone.[1]  Along with this rise in sales, there has been an increase in the number of breweries.  According to the Brewers Association, there were 2,126 breweries in the U.S. in June 2012.  That is more than the 2,011 breweries that operated in 1887 (when New York State was the world’s #1 producer of hops) and way up from the meager 89 breweries and 44 brewing companies operating in 1979.[2]  Today, thanks to the number of breweries and the vast varieties they produce, we beer enthusiasts have countless events to attend[3] and even our own version of the sommelier, called the “Cicerone.”[4]

But while the U.S. beer industry has come far, there are still reminders of our less-than-enlightened past.  One of those reminders is 3.2% beer.  A relic of the days just after Prohibition, 3.2% “non-intoxicating” beer is still with us today.  In an attempt to limit the availability of higher-octane beverages, 3.2% is currently the only beverage allowed for sale at grocery stores in Colorado,[5] Utah,[6] and several other states.[7] Continue reading

The Price of Peatiness: The Impact of Restrictive Retail Laws


Posted by Michael D. Arena, January 25, 2013

After a long day of classes, I, like many law students, unwind with a drink. Some forestall the thought of tomorrow’s cold calling with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. Celebrating the completion of a memo might call for a cocktail or a lowball of whiskey. And for post-exam revelries, a round of tequila shots is probably in order. But for the vast majority of us with student loans, the choice of libation most nights of the term usually depends on the price tag.

I prefer scotch—a regrettably cost-prohibitive indulgence. As a frugal undergrad in California, I did my best to minimize the peaty spirit’s hefty price. Simply head down to the local discount liquor chain—big-box retailers like BevMo or Total Wine—and purchase a bottle at a fraction of the cost found in most liquor stores. Consider a 750 ml bottle of Macallan 12 Year, which retails for only $38.99 at a Northern California Total Wine[1]—pricey for a student, but manageable for special occasions.

These days I live in Manhattan, and over the past year I’ve casually surveyed the prices at many local retailers for that same bottle of Macallan. Sadly, if my anecdotal experiences are any indication, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it for less than $60–70 in this town. Continue reading