Tuesday, November 06, 2007

no beer sampling in Virginia

As a Territory Manager for the Clipper City Brewing Company, one of my duties is to spread the word, so to speak, about our beers. To do that, I'm often at beer/wine stores pouring 1/2 ounce samples and describing the beers for customers. It brings awareness of the brewery to the public (small breweries don't have the advertising budgets of the larger breweries) and it demonstrates the brewery's support of those shops as our vital partners.

So what are we to make of this new regulation just handed down recently by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control? ... actually a re-interpretation of an existing regulation:

No third party representatives - including employees of breweries - may pour samples of beer (or wine for that matter) for customers in specialty/gourmet shops in Virginia.

I might understand a reluctance to allow male and female models from agencies having nothing to do with a brewery - or winery - to conduct in-store demonstrations. But forbidding the folks who make the beer or wine? Come on now.

If a specialty shop applies for and receives a restaurant license - known as an on-premise license - it may again invite brewery reps like me. But distributors would be then forbidden from representing their products.


I recognize the need to regulate alcohol - it's a legal drug, after all. But I don't understand the reasoning behind this ruling.

[UPDATE 2008.03.17: Virgina says it's ok for me to pour you a beer! ]

Due to the nature of this post, I should emphasize that my opinion is not necessarily that of the Clipper City Brewing Company.


  1. Well, you know, those 1/2 oz. samples add up. Before you know it people are lining up at tastings and getting smashed on free beer instead of going to the State run ABC stores for hard liquor, and cutting into tax revenue. :-)

    Anyway, come to a retailer in the Fredericksburg area and I'll risk the ensuing anarchy and pour for you!

  2. But can you still put up a table, bring in wine, set up some tasting glasses, and then have the store owner pour while you watch the cash register for a few minutes?

    Of course, silly as this rule is, it's just another reminder that here in Pennsylvania, you can't buy beer at "gourmet stores" at all unless the establishment has a restaurant license, meaning there are about three places within an hour's drive of me where I can buy single bottles of craft beer. So buck up; it could be worse.


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