Wednesday, March 09, 2016

New Alcohol Law Provides Business Opportunities for District Farmer’s Markets, Alcohol Manufacturers

WASHINGTON, DC) – A new alcohol law goes into effect today providing new business opportunities for District farmer’s markets and alcohol manufacturers. 
“This legislation gives a growing sector of the District’s economy a leg up connecting them with consumers right here in the District,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Together, we will continue to find innovative ways to expand economic opportunities for our small businesses and create more pathways to the middle class for District residents.” 

As part of the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Act of 2015, a District farmers’ market could apply for a new license to allow District breweries, distilleries and wineries to serve as market vendors. Under a farmers’ market license, a District alcohol manufacturer could provide tastings of its products at no cost and sell sealed bottles of its alcohol for off-premises consumption. In order to apply for the license, a farmer’s market would need to meet a host of qualifications and submit an application to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).

In addition to being able to operate at licensed farmers’ markets, other provisions of the new law will allow District alcohol manufacturers to host events such as weddings andcorporate functions.

For the first time, a manufacturer could apply to ABRA for a permit to provide entertainment. A brewery, distillery or winery issued an entertainment endorsement could host a live band or DJ; provide dancing facilities; and charge a cover for admission. In addition, the legislation allows District alcohol manufacturers to extend their operating hours to 8 a.m.-midnight, daily. Manufacturers were previously only able to operate from 1-9 p.m., daily. In order to apply for an entertainment endorsement or to change operating hours, a manufacturer would need to submit an application to ABRA.

The legislation also clarified that alcohol manufacturers can sell and serve pints of beer, glasses of wine and cocktails with spirits at private events that are produced by other manufacturers. Any alcohol—produced by an outside manufacturer— would need to be purchased from a District-licensed manufacturer or wholesaler. A manufacturer continues to be restricted to only selling and serving alcohol it manufacturers for non-private events.
The Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Act of 2015 was passed by the District of Columbia Council, approved by Mayor Muriel Bowser and completed a 30-day Congressional review period. Complete details of the new law are available online.
Licensees that have questions about the new law can contact ABRA by emailing or calling (202) 442-4423.

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