Posts Tagged ‘Alcohol Seller Training’

Who’s calling the shots? Tavern owners want more regulation from the state in an increasingly competitive market

Who’s calling the shots? Tavern owners want more regulation from the state in an increasingly competitive market

Does the lack of public interdiction of political policy creates a problem for public safety and an opportunity for public danger?  Tragedy usually creates the need for lawful policy.  

   Wedding barns, hair salons, jewelry stores, supermarkets,  fast food service, and art dealers, do they all need licenses to serve alcohol?  How many state alcohol enforcement agency and local police ever have enough money to enforce alcohol laws with increase of new alcohol locations?

  The privilege to deliver and serve alcohol to people must come with a legal responsibility. Prevention of alcohol misuse comes from education for servers and funding for state agency and local police departments. 

Wisconsin Tavern League has been a political powerhouse for decades — advocating in the Capitol for thousands of bars and restaurants across the state that serve alcohol.

The group, which was established in 1935 and is the largest tavern association in the world, has, like other advocacy groups, won and lost policy fights over the years. Among its victories, the Tavern League has fought successfully to extend bar hours and remove drunk driving warnings from state road signs. Its biggest loss in recent years was the failure to prevent a statewide smoking ban in bars in 2010.

It has yet to stop what it says is a growing existential threat to local bars and banquet halls: wedding barns, the privately owned establishments advertised to the public and available to rent for a variety of events, the most popular of which is the rusticly themed nuptial. People who rent out these venues typically bring in their own alcohol and bartenders to serve it. Some barn owners have liquor licenses, but many do not and have not been required to obtain them as is required of a banquet hall or bar.

“Our industry has been under attack since day one… just a difference in who’s attacking and what the issue is,” said Pete Madland, executive director of the Tavern League, in an interview.Wisconsin alcohol license enforcement by region

The organization’s members have for years advocated for more of what other business interests typically rebuff: government regulation and aggressive enforcement. In particular, they argue, the hands-off approach to wedding barns and other unregulated events spaces highlights a lack of consistency when it comes to enforcing liquor laws, a longstanding gripe of the Tavern League.

They say Gov. Tony Evers’ administration has so far largely abdicated that responsibility, along with his predecessors from both parties, Scott Walker and Jim Doyle, neither of whom took a firm, consistent approach to alcohol regulation.

“It’s the only area of government advocating to deregulate an industry … these are government officials whose only job is regulation,” Madland said of the state Department of Revenue and its enforcement agents. Revenue is the agency through which alcohol is taxed and regulated and it currently has nine agents to monitor hundreds of businesses that hold alcohol licenses.

There is no reliable Democratic or Republican position when it comes to selling and serving alcohol and both parties accept Tavern League campaign contributions to boost their candidates.

Evers has said that he wants to see alcohol consumption in the state better controlled, but he has yet to change the state’s approach to how it enforces the law or provide guidance on how the state’s alcohol statutes should be applied.

“Alcohol is something that needs control and so we have to make sure that is controlled in a way that other spirits are,” he said shortly after winning election in November 2018, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the issue.

Six months after Evers took office, the Tavern League and wholesalers say they are still waiting for guidance.

“We’re operating without a net … nobody is calling the shots,” said Madland, who said the Tavern League has asked the state countless times over the last several years to better enforce the law. “We’ve lost some respect for the agency … the message it is sending to our members: ‘You don’t have to follow the law.’ And that isn’t some hyperbole.”

Allowing unlicensed event venues to stay in business while alcohol is served on the premises violates past Department of Justice legal opinions and is tantamount to the executive branch creating new policy without the Legislature, said Scott Stenger, the Tavern League’s lobbyist.

Stenger cites a 1992 legal opinion from then Attorney General Jim Doyle, who told the Legislature that if alcoholic beverages are served at an event where an admission fee is charged (similar, Stenger said, to a rental fee) that the “owner of the establishment must hold the appropriate alcohol beverage license.”

“We’re perplexed … wedding barns were always required to have a license,” he said.

Eric Jensen, lobbyist for the Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association, said his organization, too, wants more enforcement.

“We want our industry to follow the law, and we look forward to working with the current administration and the Department of Revenue to ensure our enforcement measures accomplish that goal,” he said in a statement to the Cap Times, speaking about enforcement broadly, not wedding barns. “The nondiscriminatory, competitive playing field created by these regulations has provided Wisconsin a vibrant craft beer and alcohol market in which our homegrown businesses compete fairly with manufacturers from across the country.”

Though the Department of Revenue jointly enforces state alcohol laws with local municipalities, it is considered the legal authority on how those rules are followed. Patty Mayers, a spokeswoman for the agency, said it has been working with the state’s alcohol industry to improve enforcement and is working on finding funds to hire more enforcement agents.

“The Department of Revenue takes very seriously the topic of alcohol regulation and enforcement, and effectively utilizes the resources granted to us by the legislature to enforce alcohol laws,” Mayers said.

A variety of beers is a benefit that alcohol retailers and wholesalers say comes directly from a well-regulated and enforced three-tier system where distributors can ensure beers from small brewers share space with those from the large operations.By Michelle Stocker

Department of Revenue as ‘referee’

The framework of laws that the Tavern League and alcohol wholesalers want better enforced is called the “three-tier system.” This set of laws outlines how alcoholic beverages should be manufactured, distributed and sold in the state.

After Prohibition ended in 1929, Wisconsin, among other states, adopted this system, which mandates that alcohol be made, distributed and sold by different companies. For example, a business that makes alcohol cannot also distribute it and companies that sell alcohol wholesale cannot sell it directly to the public.

Businesses like breweries, wineries and distilleries that produce the alcohol each have distinct rules they must follow. Those rules have changed incrementally over the years — some say becoming murkier — to accommodate new trends and business models in the growing craft beverage industry.

Though the three-tier system was intended to prevent monopolies, some craft beverage businesses say it now does the opposite, protecting some alcohol players at the expense of others.

The debate surrounding the three-tier system and how it should work has divided Republican lawmakers and pitted businesses that produce alcoholic beverages against those that distribute and sell them to the public. Both sides speak of clarifying the law, but what that looks like varies widely.

The state Department of Revenue was always supposed to be a referee between those business interests, but it has become increasingly passive, said Roger Johnson, a former regulator who retired in 2014 after 38 years working in alcohol enforcement. Johnson participated in a legislative study committee on alcohol regulation last year that resulted in little new policy, none of which addressed key longstanding problems. He acknowledged that wedding barns should be regulated in some way, but said that he has not been aware of what’s happened at the department since he left.

“I think there is a reluctance on the Department of Revenue’s part to get involved in any kind of municipal issues that come up, which, as the referee as a state agency, we’re here to administer and enforce the law,” he said. “If you want to change the law, change the law. Don’t wink and nod and ignore it because it’s not going to go away.”

He looks at efforts to clarify the law as “an attempt to bring things under control before it does become a problem,” he said.

Robert Pomplun   servingalcohol.com

186 alcohol sellers charged in underage drinking crackdown in New York

More than 180 establishments holding New York state liquor licenses have been charged with serving minors during last month’s statewide crackdown on underage drinking.

That’s according to state officials who say April’s monthlong enforcement effort resulted in charges being filed against 186 out of the 851 bars, restaurants, liquor stores and grocery stores in 46 counties that were visited by underage decoys working with investigators.

The compliance checks were conducted by the State Liquor Authority, the state Department of Motor Vehicles and local law enforcement agencies.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the start of the statewide sweeps in early April. He says it was the state’s latest effort to catch people using fake identifications to buy alcohol and to hold businesses accountable for illegal sales.

Budweiser brewer will put kick into root beer

Best Damn Root Beer, hitting stores and taps Monday nationwide, is the first beer from the mega-brewer’s new unit, Best Damn Brewing Co. The new beverage, a sweet ale aged on vanilla beans will weigh in at 5.5% alcohol by volume — that compares to 5% for traditional Budweiser. It’s being positioned as a premium-priced product available in bottles, cans and on tap.

“We like to say this is an easy-drinking hard root beer,” said Kathy Sattler, brand director for Best Damn Brewing Co. and a 20-year veteran who has served as marketing director on global Budweiser and Corona brands. “It smells, it looks and it tastes like the root beer flavor you know and love, but in an adult version.”

As part of the launch, Anheuser-Busch will have Best Damn Root Beer available in bottle, cans and on draft nationwide. Some restaurants and bars will also offer root beer floats with the new beer served in special 20-oz mugs.

Anheuser-Busch’s Best Damn Brewing division has been working on the recipe since 2014. “We are seeing more and more consumers gravitate to different styles and different palates wanting things that are not just the traditional beer taste,” said Rashmi Patel, an Anheuser-Busch vice president within the brewers’ new “Share of Throat” team aimed at creating new alcoholic drinks beyond traditional beers.

Boozy root beers have been a hit this year, with Not Your Father’s Root Beer from Small Town Brewery of Wauconda, Ill., and Coney Island Hard Root Beer out of Brooklyn’s Coney Island Brewing, both infiltrating shelves across the nation.

Not Your Father’s Root Beer (5.9% ABV), which is distributed by Pabst Brewing, was launched nationally this summer;  Pabst CEO Eugene Kashper is also part of a group that owns an interest in the brands.  So far this year, consumers have spent about $111 million on hard root beers at retail outlets and convenience stores, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm that tracks sales at supermarkets and other retail outlets.

Small Town’s Not Your Father’s Root Beer commands 80% of sales — and is the No. 3 ranked craft beer brand, according to IRI — while Coney Island Hard Root Beer has 18%, IRI says. “Alcoholic root beers quickly emerged to have a significant impact on beer category sales this year,” said IRI’s Dan Wandel. “Based upon the success this year of Not Your Father’s Root Beer and Coney Island Hard Root Beer and the significant number of additional hard soda brands expected in 2016, I would expect to see sales for hard sodas more than double in 2016.”

Also hitting during the summer was Coney Island Hard Root Beer (5.8% ABV), available nationally from Coney Island Brewing, which is part of Samuel Adams’ parent company Boston Beer. Just this month, Coney Island Brewing added two new soda-inspired beers, Hard Ginger Ale and Hard Orange Cream Ale to roster.

“We launched our Hard Root Beer this summer, and the response was unprecedented,” said Coney Island Brewing’s operations manager Chris Adams. “We knew we would appeal to the tastes of craft beer drinkers if, like with Hard Root Beer, we created hard craft sodas that are both delicious and nostalgic.”

Small Town also has a Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale scheduled to hit 40 states in February.

“I just see this as another product that companies are offering in an attempt to quench the thirst of consumers who are trying new products and trying different styles in a lot of different areas,” said Chris Furnari, business writer for  Brewbound.com. “Some folks want a more hoppy bitter offering, some want a sugary sweet offering.”

For now, Anheuser-Busch is brewing the Best Damn Root Beer at its Los Angeles and Cartersville, Ga., breweries. It is likely expand its lineup, too. “We want to make sure that consumers who are experimenting, when they don’t want to have one of our core beers that they were coming to our portfolio,” Patel said.

SABMiller, which is the process of trying to merge with A-B InBev, also has hard soda drinks in the works, Furnari said. So the category could be developing into another arena in which Big Beer brands are competing with craft breweries. Craft beer’s share of the $32.6-billion beer industry  is expected to increase from 7.5% in 2010 to 15% this year, according to research firm IBISWorld.

“The other thing we’re curious to see is whether there going to be a craft version of this, something really high-end (or) organic,” Furnari said. “It’s certainly an evolving category. We don’t know where it’s going or how long it’s going to last.”

, USA TODAY12:25 p.m. EST December 16, 2015

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Will self-serve beer render bartenders obsolete?

Your next draft may be pulled not by a bartender — but by you.

A small but growing number of gastropubs and fast-casual restaurants are going self-serve, installing systems that enable drinkers to draw their own taps, similar to the soda fountain at McDonald’s but far more sophisticated.

Establishments in the notoriously low-margin restaurant industry say the technology not only cuts labor costs but also boosts revenue by encouraging customers to sample what can be a bewildering array of Belgian quads, India pale ales or oatmeal stouts on a menu.

The technology has another attraction: It can measure and charge literally by the sip — something not lost on Barrel Republic, a craft beer bar in Oceanside and San Diego’s Pacific Beach where there are dozens of craft beers on tap and no bartender.

Sean Hale, general manager of the recently opened Oceanside pub, said customers pay for what would be free samples at traditional pubs while making it simpler to try exotic brews.

“They love it,” he said. “It’s about tasting all these different beers and the fun of exploring.”

Fast-casual sausage joint Dog Haus is on board too. The chain has a four-tap self-serve system at its Santa Ana store, and a six-tap one is coming soon to a location near Cal State Fullerton.

Quasim Riaz, the chain’s co-founder, said that with customers charged by the 10th of an ounce, there is less waste. Customers tend to be more careful than a bartender who might be prone to spill, over-pour or give away a beer “on the house,” he said.

“In theory you get a 100% yield on a keg,” he said.

Both establishments installed systems from iPourIt, a Santa Ana company that is one of the leading providers of the technology.

“Our goal is to really redefine the concept of craft beer dispense,” said company co-founder Joseph McCarthy.

Its system, like others, requires drinkers to provide an ID to receive a wireless bracelet or card that enables them to operate the tap. Providers sell table- and wall-mounted systems, along with mobile units for fairs and sporting events.

But some labor is required to ensure that establishments are not selling beer to inebriated customers, which can pose a legal liability. After a customer drinks a certain amount — usually two full beers — an employee has to determine whether they are sober enough for more.

The technology runs about $25,000 for a wall-mounted, 20-tap system, plus a monthly maintenance fee. But if they prove profitable, the systems could become ubiquitous across an industry in which online ordering and reservations already are popular, said Brandon Gerson of restaurant data firm CHD Expert.

“A system like this didn’t even exist 10 years ago,” he said. “I don’t see why they wouldn’t have the potential to become just as standard as a booth.”

It’s unclear how many self-serve beer locations there are nationwide, but McCarthy said iPourIt is in 42 locations in 23 states and two Canadian provinces. Fourteen of those are exclusively self-serve with no bartender.

Josh Goodman of rival PourMyBeer in Wheeling, Ill., which previously sold and installed iPourIt taps, said his company has sold its own self-pour systems to about 80 locations since 2013.

“In a location with 50 taps, you typically have to have around 20 to 30 employees,” Goodman said. “With us, you can easily have 10 and not really be stretched.”

But the traditional bartender isn’t about to go the way of the elevator operator, not just yet anyway.

Tom’s Urban, a gastropub in downtown Los Angeles, offers self-pour, but those taps are at only two tables out of roughly 250 at the L.A. Live location.

Aaron Garisek, the pub’s director of operations, said its PourMyBeer taps are great for sports fans who don’t want to miss a play by ordering from a server or going to the bar. But he doesn’t foresee going completely self-serve because personal connections with bartenders and servers simply are too popular.

“I think it’s really important to have that smile,” he said.

Indeed, self-pour could prove to have limited appeal.

Nick Petrillo, a research analyst at IBISWorld, said the concept may seem cool, but in practice might complicate the experience for some customers. For example, drinkers may make bad pours, or spill more often than a trained bartender, leaving the tap areas sticky and unsanitary.

“This technology seems like a total buzz kill,” Petrillo said.

Chris Bright, president of Zpizza International, said that has not been his experience.

The franchise pizza chain recently opened a “Tap Room” location with iPourIt technology near Los Angeles International Airport and wants to sign leases for 20 new self-pour beer locations in Southern California by early next year.

Bright said the chain is eating the cost of bad pours, but the systems are still moneymakers because Zpizza can serve a lengthy beer menu, while not hiring an army of servers. And customers, he said, are more likely to order another beer if they don’t have to stand in line again and pay at the register.

Customers like Chris Scales, who on a recent afternoon sipped a pale ale he poured at the location near airport, seem to bear that out.

“I don’t like interacting with bartenders,” he said. “They are always too busy.”

One table over, Shawn Herbst was enjoying a round with two colleagues. In town for a conference near LAX, the 44-year-old Floridian said he liked the self-pour concept, in part because it seems easier to try a bunch of new beers by tasting only a little.

But to test that theory he first needs to break his habit: a full pint of King Harbor California Saison rested on the table in front of him.

andrew.khouri@latimes.com

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Online training and resources for bar and restaurant owners, managers, servers, waiters, waitresses.
Offering Bartender License, Server Training Courses, Food Safety and Management courses.
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