The Fight Over Massachusetts’ Alcoholic Beverage Franchise Laws

Massachusetts brewers descended on Beacon Hill last week to continue their almost decade-long fight to liberate their beer from the draconian franchise law holding them hostage. Pursuant to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 138 Section 25E, any brewery (or distillery or vineyard for that matter) that sells its product to a distributor for a six-month period is automatically entered into a business relationship (whether an explicit agreement exists or not) requiring the brewery to sell that particular product exclusively to that distributor, potentially for life. The inability to extricate their products from distributor relationships, particularly when the business relationship has deteriorated, has irked brewers for years. Meanwhile, Distributors suggest a change in the law would risk jobs and shutter businesses. Several bills are pending at the State House to do just that, but to fully understand the current situation it helps to have some background.

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Massachusetts House Budget Proposes Extended Liquor License Hours for Casinos

The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently released its budget for Fiscal Year 2018. Embedded in the outside sections, Section 69, is a change to the alcoholic beverage licensing laws for casinos (G.L. c. 23K, Section 26) that would allow patrons actively gambling to continue drinking through 4:00 AM. 

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A Legal Guide to Opening a Restaurant with an Alcoholic Beverage License

Opening a restaurant can be the fulfillment of a long-sought dream, but success does not happen by accident. It is the product of detailed planning. One must consider all legal, business, financial and operational factors to cultivate an environment for the restaurant to thrive. This guide is intended to educate prospective restaurateurs of the generic legal considerations one will encounter and equip them with the tools to provide the best opportunity for the successful launch of a restaurant with an alcoholic beverage license in Massachusetts. 

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Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage License Types

If you’re thinking about opening a business involving the manufacture, distribution, or sale of alcoholic beverages within Massachusetts, you will need to acquire an alcoholic beverage license from the State’s alcohol licensing agency - the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (and sometimes from the federal government and/or local licensing authority, depending on the business). Acquiring such a license can be a consuming process, taxing both time and money, but with the proper planning you can make sure it goes down as easy as your favorite after-work drink.

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A Not-So-Surprising Shift in the Massachusetts Brewing Industry

Night Shift Brewing, one of the more successful and entrepreneurial breweries in Massachusetts,  is set to launch their own beer distribution company. Based in in Everett, Night Shift has built their brand from the ground up. They developed an allegiance of customer support that travels near and far to their taproom in order to enjoy their wildly popular beers. In 2014 they moved into a 30,000 square foot facility in Everett with a large taproom. Their beers became so popular that they recently opened an expanded taproom area to accommodate the nightly influx of eager patrons. During this time, the brewery has always self-distributed its own product. Weary of the long-term relationship that is created once entering into a distribution arrangement with a wholesaler, they opted for full control with potentially less reach while building their brand. 

 

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