Tomatoes, apples and a cold brew -- California farmers market beer law OK'd

New law will make beer sales legal at California farmers markets

Craft breweries will soon be able to join winemakers in selling their wares at local farmers markets, thanks to a law just signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

When it takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015, the law will allow licensed beer manufactures (sorry home brewers) to apply for permits allowing them to sell packaged beer at a certified farmers market located within the brewery’s county -- or an adjacent county. Beer manufactures with the permit can sell up to 5,000 gallons of beer annually at farmers markets, though they’ll need a separate permit for each different certified farmers market they wish to sell suds at.

Selling at farmers markets is a privilege that winemakers have enjoyed for some time, and the bill, AB 2004, gives breweries another freedom that is already in place for wineries. Currently, breweries hosting private events on the brewery premises can only serve their own beer. The new law will allow for the sale of beer and wine, regardless of source, during private events at their manufacturing facility.

“The demand for private events, such as weddings, at these craft brewery venues is becoming much more prevalent,” the California Craft Brewers Assn. said in a statement. “This new law will allow breweries to provide wine to guests attending a private function at the brewery.”

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata), a North Coast lawmaker who has been instrumental in reforming laws that affect the craft beer boom in the state, including the recent reform to growler filling laws, and even a law allowing underage winemaking and brewing students to “taste, but not drink, wine and beer as a part of their coursework.

Executive Director of the California Craft Brewers Assn. Tom McCormick said in a statement: “AB 2004 provides craft brewers parity with the privileges currently enjoyed by the wine industry. As the popularity and number of craft breweries grows, AB 2004 assists brewers in reaching new consumers and allowing them to meet the demand of the growing industry”.

There’s no word yet if the law will allow for free samples at farmers markets, but you can read the full text of the bill here.

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