Syracuse partner Brendan Palfreyman was recently quoted in a SFGate.com (sister site of the San Francisco Chronicle) article about San Francisco’s Seven Stills Brewery and Distillery shutting down for 90 days due to alleged “tied-house” marketing practices. According to the piece, the purpose of tied-house laws is to maintain separation between the three tiers of alcoholic distribution — producers, wholesalers and retailers like bars and stores — and to level the playing field for smaller craft breweries competing in the market. The laws prohibit companies, particularly large ones, from offering gifts of value, or monetary payments to retailers, in exchange for selling their beer.
Seven Stills received around 60 violations, each with a fine of $10,000.
Brendan weighed in on the frequency of tied-house marketing issues, saying that while it’s more typical that a macro brewery might receive such citations for “pay-to-play”-type sales efforts, it’s not unheard of for small breweries to also get dinged.
“You don’t hear a ton about it in the news, [but] it’s happening more frequently than it’s being reported is my guess. Every state has a byzantine series of these laws. Are they always enforced? No. But they could be.”
Read more about Seven Still’s tied-house issues.