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Giving beer to bars?

My wife keeps bugging me to start a brewery (I am a loooong way off from a one-barrel nanobrewery), but I did get to thinking…

There are a couple of small, independent bar/restaurants in my neighborhood that have rotating craft beer taps. I thought that I could give these places a couple of 5-gallon kegs for them to sell the beer at whatever price they chose, just in order to get the name of the brewery out there. Later, I would sell the kegs to those bars at the wholesale price and we would go from there.

Would something like this be legal? Remember this would be commercial beer and not homebrew. Do you think a bar owner would go for something like this-- all profits from the first keg or two? What do you think?


I’m in the process of talking with lawyers and some real estate friends of mine about the same thing. There are some legal issues at play, but nothing to serious. Keep in mind, for that first few kegs, you’re not “selling” it. You’re giving it away. Now, if they sell it, well who cares? They have the licensing to do so.

One of the my favorite watering holes has tried some of my brews and love em. I’ve given them a couple kegs over time, I never asked for compensation. My lawyers tell me it’s all in the clear. Plus I get massive discounts everytime I’m there.

Plus it’s a great way to gauge the interest that consumers will have in the beer you brew. Doesn’t hurt to get the name out either

[quote=“Rico Suave”]Remember this would be commercial beer and not homebrew.[/quote]As long as you have your federal and local licenses and pay the taxes on the beer, you can give it away if you wish. But if you’re brewing this beer at home, “prepping” for going commercial but with no license, you cannot give it to a retailer for sale (although it’s possible that they can give it away depending on your state and local laws).

This is all with the caveat that I am not a lawyer and do not play one on TV, but I have spent a fair amount of time looking into various options for starting a commercial venture in Texas. You will at some point need to talk to a lawyer about this.

I also believe the beer would have to be brewed in a commercial, not residential, facility.

Talk to an attorney and/or the Federal and State agencies that regulate this sort of thing.

What you’re proposing sounds interesting but, while I’m not a lawyer and haven’t played one on TV (yet), I’m pretty certain that what you are proposing would run afoul of the Feds, and probably state and local alcohol laws as well.

Making beer is easy.
But once you get into the area of distributing homebrew for public consumption (even giving it away to a bar to pour), you’re definitely skating on some very thin ice.

I live in Florida and here the answer is a resounding NO. I’ve asked, and have a friend who owns a pub with 50 beers on draft. He can’t sell anything that doesn’t come through a distributer. If he had a brewpub licence, (about $15k) I could brew at his restautrant but he’s not about to drop that kind of cash for the trickle of brew I could serve his by the barrel clientel. My point? Hopefully you live in a more laid back state than Florida! But it is up to the state and varies widely around the country. Ask some pub owners, most are glad to chat while you drain a few pints and eat at their establishment. I hope you have better luck than I did…

Not only is a bar required to obtain the beer though a distributor, distributors are not allowed to give beer to retailers. They cannot provide free of charge anything alcohol.

Until the law is changed on July 1st in Wisconsin a home brewer cannot take his beer out off of his property. That means no taking a bottle to the neighbor or to a brew club meeting and no beer competitions.
NB had a lot to do with getting this law changed.

But if you have a minor under the age of 18 they can serve them beer in a bar as long as you are with them, but once they turn 18 they cannot be served until they turn 21.

Go figure out some of these dumb laws.

Liquor store can be open from 6 am to 9 pm 7 days a week and bars do not have to close on new years eve they can stay open all night.

My educated guess is that no way would this be legal under federal law. You really need to talk to a lawyer specializing in alcohol laws in your state.

I know of a fair number who specialize in alcohol, but not alcohol laws! Pretty niche area, for sure. Here in Illinois, arguably no competitions would be permitted if the law were to be strictly construed, because of the way the law is written (essentially, it is illegal to possess alcohol that is not distributed through authorized channels, unless it is to be provided to the maker, his family and “guests”). Of course, the guests thing has not been tested; this past spring at least one brewfest in Peoria was required to prohibit homebrewers from giving away their beer at the event.

This is another example of an arcane law that needs to be addressed to bring Illinois kicking and screaming into this century…

Problem is, there is nothing “in it” for the politicians.


Beyond all the legal aspects you are not insured. Even remote a possibility as it is, if anything were to happen to a patron and you were dragged into it you’ll wish you never did it.

Aren’t you all glad we live in a “free” country!??!!??

It’s free but…

[quote=“Demus”]Aren’t you all glad we live in a “free” country!??!!??[/quote]We do this stuff to ourselves - when I was a kid, you couldn’t buy a broom on Sunday and even today our liquor stores close at 9:00 and don’t open on Sunday at all and you can’t buy wine/beer until noon on Sunday at the grocery store. If people refused to buy any alcohol until the state changed the laws, it would happen overnight (because of lost tax revenue), but there’s no grassroot movement to make changes this way. There were two bills in the legislature last session to loosen regulations of small breweries and brewpubs and both were killed by the distributors who own the lawmakers since no alcohol can be sold in Texas without going through a distributor (at least for now).

How do you figure “we do this stuff to ourselves” when you go on to say the bills were killed by big business with the political process in thier back pocket? There may have been a day when the common man could make a difference in this country, but that ship has sailed my friend…

[quote=“Demus”]How do you figure “we do this stuff to ourselves” when you go on to say the bills were killed by big business with the political process in thier back pocket? [/quote]We not only allow it to happen, we keep putting people into office (and returning them to office) who are willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder with no regards for their country or their beer. We could shut down every distributor in the state with a simple boycott of booze, and it would make homebrewers king as a side benefit.

“I” already do that as I very rarely buy comercial beer. I guess I’m waiting for “we” to follow suit!!

On the more optimistic side of things, it didn’t take too long to lift Wisconsin’s ban

on sharing your homebrew with the neighbours.

(Thanks to Northern Brewer for helping to get that pushed through!)

Yeah I guess it’s not all bad… chalk one up for the good guys!!!

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