California Legislative Update

There’s been a flurry of activity in California’s political power center lately, with a couple of new bills signed by governor Jerry Brown in Sacramento this week.

Tasting Room Bill (AB 1014)

The Tasting Room Bill makes it easier for breweries to serve samples of their beer without having to comply with all the same requirements as a full-scale restaurant.

From the press release from the CSBA:

Previously, craft brewers wishing to have a tasting room at the brewery would be required to install several industrial sinks, redo plumbing and electrical wiring among other requirements, simply to provide beer samples. These renovations can cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars creating a huge burden for small breweries.

“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.

Caffeine Ban Bill (SB 39)

The second bill signed by Governor Brown, SB 39, was authored by Senator Alex Padilla, D-San Fernando Valley, and Assemblyman Jim Beall, R-Santa Clara County, who’s no friend to the beer industry.

Showing just what happens when you don’t pay journalists, the Huffington Post originally reported that passage of Senate Bill 39 meant that caffeine beer was banned, which is not correct. The bill was aimed at alcohol and caffeine energy drinks like Four Loko, Joose and their ilk. The bill only “bans any malt beverage to which caffeine has been directly added as a separate ingredient….” It does not include “beer brewed with coffee, tea or chocolate,” a carve out negotiated by the CSBA.

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