Alva Mather and Nichole Shustack of McDermott, Will & Emery — a law firm with one of the country’s leading beverage alcohol practices — joined the Brewbound Podcast to break down all the pressing legal issues facing the beer industry in 2021.
Between the rise of e-commerce and the nebulous definition of hard seltzer for tax and regulatory purposes, there’s a lot that brewers need to know to remain on the right side of the law this year.
Pandemic-driven shutdowns have led to expanded privileges for craft breweries to offer home delivery and shipping services, which have met pushback from distributors in some states.
“My perspective here is that the three-tier system is here to stay, but it’s adaptable,” Mather said. “And we’ve seen that during the pandemic.”
As consumers are shopping online for alcohol at record-shattering rates, brewers have upped their e-commerce game, linking to platforms such as Drizly and Instacart that can deliver beer to drinkers’ homes in under an hour. Shustack and Mather cover necessary information for these new trade practices, which are regulated differently state by state.
“Brewers should keep their ears to the ground and understand what the dynamics are in the state and who they’re actually operating with, because if you contract with a third party, that’s not where your liability ends,” Shustack explained. “You have some obligation to make sure that you’re contracting with the right third party and they have all the protocols to make the delivery — for example, age verification.”
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