Free beer samples coming to California farmers markets next year

A new bill signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown will let you sample beer before you buy it at your local farmers market.

The bill amends an October law that allowed local breweries to sell beer at farmers markets. When the new law goes into effect in 2016, breweries will be able to host an "instructional tasting event on the subject of beer at a certified farmers' market." 

After last year's law passed, many breweries were reluctant to apply for the special permits since they were unable to offer samples of the beer.

"This bill allows craft brewers to offer tastings at their regional Farmers Markets, allowing breweries to introduce the art of craft beer to new audiences across the state," Tom Mccormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Assn., said in a statement. "Potential customers can sample the beers they may be purchasing for off-site consumption and breweries can connect directly with local craft beer enthusiasts and access additional sales opportunities."

The new law will also allow for nonprofit groups to raise funds by raffling or auctioning beer donated by breweries. Previously, nonprofits receiving beer donations could only offer the beer for on-site consumption at special events. This is a privilege that winemakers have enjoyed for years, and the new law gives brewers the same ability to assist with nonprofit fundraising.

Though opponents of the bill argued that it would “negatively impact public health by allowing alcohol producers to give away free beer where families shop for nutritious vegetables, fruit and meat,” the “instructional tasting events” allowed by the new law include a limit of 8 ounces of beer per person per day.

The bill, AB 774, was written by state Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael). You can read the full text of the bill here.

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