Sampling to public?

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Deac

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New to forum with a quick question. A friend of mine is hosting an art show, they have asked if I could sample my beer at the show....they have done it with wine in the past and because they have the bottle showing, and there is no charge, they have said it is considered a sample. I am all for having strangers sample my beer, give me a good indication beyond family and friends but I am concerned about legality here. Anyone know can I give "samples" at the show? I am in Minnesota. The folks are carded at the door.
Thank
 

buckeyebrewer

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I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that no one would really care. I doubt the cops would come in and shut the place down or anything. As long as they are legal age.......I know in Ohio a "sample" is 2oz or less.
 

Clayton

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i dont really know but you arnt charging so i dont see a crime here

i have been to lots of grand opening and the like and had free drinks and it was ok
 

Kickass

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If your label sucks they'll probably take you to jail...oh never mind.
 

pericles

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I am NOT a Minnesota attorney, so I'm not at all familiar with the case law. If you're really interested in going forward with this project, the art gallery almost certainly DOES have an attorney, and they should consult with him, for their part of the transaction; you, on the other hand, might consider consulting a separate attorney, since the gallery's attorney does NOT represent you.

That said, a quick search of the Minnesota statutes reveals under Minn. Stat. § 340A.301(d) that "Nothing in this chapter requires a license for the natural fermentation of fruit juices or brewing of beer in the home for family use." A quick search of the relevant case-law revealed nothing. (By quick I mean five minutes, really, if you want legal advice, hire a Minnesota attorney!)

The plain language of the statute indicates that in order to legally permit anyone other than your family "use" your beer, you will need to obtain a license, and thus no, you are not permitted under Minnesota statute to hand out samples of your beer to non-family members without a license.

NOTA BENE: they may be permitted to hand out samples without a license, but that does NOT mean that you are permitted to GIVE them the samples, so even if there are no legal problems on their end, there may be on yours. Obviously, as home brewers we all tend to take advantage of the fact that our respective state governments have better things to do than stomp on us, but if you're even a little bit concerned, definitely check in with an attorney. Alternatively (and cheaper) call your local state representative, and ask him/her for a candid opinion.
 

pericles

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Deac, I've been thinking about it some more, and here's a question for you: are you intending to get a license and start a brewery? If you'd like to take this as an opportunity to explore the possibility of opening a brewery in the future, then there's some economic value to handing out samples, and you might want to take the risk - although, obviously I have an ethical duty to advise you NOT to commit a crime!

A legal alternative would be to call the local alcohol board, and explore how much a license would actually cost. If it's cheap for your level and style of production, maybe the gallery would split the cost with you! Then you could look at marketing a few select batches to local bars and beer distributors, test the waters before taking the plunge.
 

david_42

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Call your liquor control board. In Oregon you need a license just to serve samples.
 

pericles

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David: What the art gallery does after you give them the beer is certainly an important question, especially with regards to civil liability. It may also give rise to criminal repercussions.

It's important, however, to distinguish between what is legal for them, and legal for Deac. Assuming the gallery IS allowed to hand out samples, that does NOT mean that Deac is permitted to give them those samples. I wholeheartedly second your advice about calling the State LCB, but Deac should be careful not to just ask whether "samples" are legal. Instead, he should make sure to ask about the legality of the WHOLE transaction.

Deac: Speaking of civil liability. . . that's another variable that I'm not sure you have considered. Assuming you are somehow able to legally transfer your home brew to the art gallery, you will probably expose yourself to civil liability in all different kinds of adverse circumstances. For instance, (just to name a few!) if one of the drinkers has an allergic reaction to your beer, if one of the bottles bursts, or if someone gets in an accident on the way home.
 

bluehouse

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Show a piece of "art" at the show. Then you become just an artist having a refreshment table at his show. My son is an artist, when he was young in Austin he had several shows & served food/alcohol in small amounts in public galeries without any license.
 

bluehouse

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Wow; you know your state law better than I do that's for sure but this interpetation would mean that every time you give a home brew to a friend you are breaking the law. Why would anyone live where they can't give a friend a brew.
 

Hokie

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Just for the sake of comparison, I believe in Virginia, you are only allowed to home brew without a license if you don't sell or even give any away to anyone other than your family...weird, but whatever.
 
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