Each year brings changes to the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, and 2018 is no exception. Most of the changes for 2018 are quite esoteric, relating only to the provision of licenses in particular counties or venues, or allowing some additional rights to non-profit corporations who use temporary licenses for events.
However, a chief new feature of the ABC Act that will have state-wide impact is the Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training Program Act of 2017 (California Business and Professions Code § 25680 et seq.). The RBS Act provides that the California ABC will develop a best-practices training program by 2020 that all on-premises servers of alcohol (and their managers) throughout the state will need to complete in order to be certified to serve alcohol. Servers employed prior to July 1, 2021 must complete the program by August 31, 2021, and all servers hired after July 1, 2021 must complete the program within 60 days of being hired. ABC advisories indicate that food servers, bartenders, cashiers, doormen, and bouncers all may be considered “servers” for purposes of the RBS Act.
The RBS law appears to encompass a wide manner of licensees that operate on premises – bars, restaurants, brewpubs, tasting rooms, clubs. For non-profit special events/temporary licenses, the licensee is required to designate one certified server who must remain on site for the entire event. Covered licensees are required to maintain records of their various certifications, and violators are subject to unspecified “disciplinary action.”
The 2018 ABC Act also permits for the first time beer manufacturers to provide free or discounted ground transportation rides for consumers (i.e. from the brewery taproom to local hotels, etc.) for purposes of public safety. (California Business and Professions Code § 25600.) This harmonizes the treatment of beer manufacturers with winegrowers and distillers. The manufacturer cannot, however, make the transportation contingent on the purchase of an alcoholic beverage, and beer wholesalers cannot have any interest in the transportation arrangement.
In instances where small beer manufacturers (License Type 23) and winegrowers have adjacent production facilities, the 2018 revisions also permit a common-licensed area in which consumers can drink both wine and beer. (California Business and Professions Code § 25607.) This is a new exception to the general prohibition of anyone possessing alcoholic beverages on a manufacturer’s premises other than the types that manufacturer is licensed to produce.
Staying up to date on laws and regulations affecting the industry is vital to successfully protecting and growing alcoholic beverage businesses. For assistance navigating beer-industry specific legal issues, contact Conkle, Kremer & Engel.