Brewery Battle Illustrates Impact of Massachusetts Business Regulations

State officials inadvertently created a powder keg (as opposed to a beer keg!) when they instituted new regulations forcing micro-brewers to use at least half their hops and grains from local farms, the Boston Herald reports.

An experienced Boston business attorney understands the impact government regulations can have on the viability and profitability of a Massachusetts business. In this case, brewers claim the law could kill the fledgling industry just as it gets off the ground.
The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission permits small brewers (less than 5,000 barrels) to set up shop with a $22 Farmer-Brewery license. The only other options is a Manufacturer License, the cost of which starts at $4,500. The advisory issued through the MABCC aims to “encourage the development of domestic farms.”

Brewers say local farms could not come close to meeting demands.

In some cases, it may be necessary to consult an experienced law firm to lobby on behalf of your business when the state or federal government is considering legal changes. Certainly waiting and hoping the government gets it right is not the best approach. In other cases, whether planning a business startup in Massachusetts or working to ensure compliance with new or existing regulations, consulting a Massachusetts business law firm is the best bet when it comes to keeping your business on the right side of the law.

As a result of the new regulations, brewers found themselves stuck in a no-man’s land — the Farmer-Brewery License requires brew be made with local crops but forbids on-site sales, tasting and self-distribution, which are key points in the business plans of most microbrewers.

“If this stands for 2012, we don’t have a business,” said Jean-Claude Tetreault, owner of Trillium Brewing Co.

By Tuesday, the uproar caused the MABCC to reverse itself. More than two dozen brewers had complained, according to the Boston Globe. After meeting with the makers of Samuel Adams, Cape Ann Brewing Company and Ipswich Ale Brewery, Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman said the commission had made a mistake.

Common industries regulated through the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation include autos and transportation, banking services, cable TV and telecommunications, energy and utilities, home improvement and construction contractors, insurance, retailers, landlords and real estate.

Businesses also have an obligation to safeguard personal information from identify theft. Rules and regulations involving workers’ compensation, unemployment and social security disability benefits is another complex area of law. Ignorance is not a defensible excuse for noncompliance. A firm offering General Counsel on Call services can keep you legal and can help you avoid regulatory violations or other costly legal mistakes in the formation or operation of your Massachusetts business.

If you need to speak to a Belmont business attorney or a business lawyer elsewhere in Massachusetts, contact The Brown Law Firm, LLC, located in Belmont and Boston, for a free and confidential consultation. Call 617-489-0817 or contact us through this website.

Additional Resources:

Brewers hopping mad over regulations, By Brendan Lynch, Boston Herald.

Boston Bar Assosiation