This bill actually enacts several changes, though the most widely discussed is already being referred to as the “Parking Lot Bill.”  That aspect of the bill makes long-standing wine privileges a reality for beer manufacturers through a “Brewery Event Permit.”  The permit allows for the sale and consumption of a brewery’s own beer (though not any other brewery’s) on property that is contiguous and adjacent to the beer manufacturer’s licensed premises, such as a parking lot. Four such events may be held by any given beer manufacturer every year.  The permit itself will cost only $110 in 2016 and each individual event will be subject to a $25 event authorization fee.

Perhaps just as importantly, however, the bill also deals with non-profit events.  The ABC now allows a beer or spirits manufacturer to sponsor and participate in events conducted by and for the benefit of non-profit organizations, regardless of whether a retail or nonretail licensee is involved as a sponsor or participant.  This gem comes after the chaos of the Grape Escape fiasco. For those who may have missed it, the ABC placed a number of manufacturer licensees on probation for having “tweeted” their participation in a festival sponsored by a large retail chain. As the retailed chain was the main sponsor of the event, its name featured prominently in posters and other media circulating for the event.  ABC determined that the tweet was a thing of value given to the retail chain, in the form of free advertising.

As a result of AB 776, now non-profit events may have as many sponsors as they wish, and such sponsors and participants may be manufacturing licensees, retail licensees, or any combination thereof. Furthermore, sponsors and participants may advertise and promote their involvement with the event even if such promotion takes the form of sharing, retweeting, or otherwise reposting social media affiliated with another house in the three-tier system, so long as the advertisement does not include the retail price of any alcoholic beverage and the retail licensee is not promoted in a manner beyond referencing its sponsorship or participation in the event.

Notably, there are provisions incorporated into AB 776 aimed at maintaining the spirit of tied-house restrictions.  Any payments or other consideration provided by a manufacturer must go directly to the non-profit conducting the event; as always, no thing of value may be given to a retail licensee; and alcoholic beverages may only be donated to the non-profit in accordance with existing laws.

A separate provision of the bill clarifies the illegality of a retail licensee purchasing beer from a manufacturer at prices other than those posted with the ABC; in a county where prices have not been posted at all; or where the beer is marked “Not Packaged for Resale.”

Lastly, the bill also clarifies that the ABC does not prohibit the purchase of advertising in a publication circulated by a nonretail licensee, even if that publication or advertising takes place on a website or social media.  The law specifically defines “publication” to include websites and social media feeds so long as such are operated and maintained by a nonretail licensee.