Posts Tagged ‘beer and brewers’

Jim Caruso on freedom for beer makers

Jim Caruso, CEO of Frederick, Md.’s Flying Dog Brewery, talks with Cato’s Caleb Brown about legal and regulatory issues in the craft beer business. We earlier followed Flying Dog’s successful First Amendment battle with Michigan regulators over its Raging Bitch label beer, the proceeds from which the company used to endow a speaker series on free speech.

Besides that case, Caruso discusses the “three-tier” system of alcohol distribution set up after Repeal, which is “pretty loose” in much of the West but far stricter in many Eastern states where memories of rum-running lingered on (“organized crime was basically created by Prohibition”). In some states, so-called franchise laws lock manufacturers permanently into an initial choice of distributor for a territory. Some of the laws even authorize distributors to sell brand rights to each other without consulting the original maker, which thus winds up with a distributor it did not have even a notional original role in picking. Originally rationalized as a way to shield small distributors from the clout of giant national brewers, these laws live on into an era in which small craft producers may face well-heeled, politically powerful state distributors.

Earlier about the three-tier system here, here, and here.

Disparagement perfected: Cato brief in Lee v. Tam

Did Cato just file the most not-safe-for-work amicus brief in Supreme Court history? It’s on the question (Lee v. Tam) of whether the government can deny trademark protection to words and phrases that are slurs and, in so doing, gather to itself the task of defining what is a slur. The case, involving the Asian-American band The Slants, is widely seen as foreshadowing the eventual outcome of the challenge to the Washington Redskins’ trademark.

Joining Cato as amici: humorist and Cato fellow P.J. O’Rourke; Profs. Nadine Strossen, Clay Calvert, and Erik Nielson; the Reason Foundation; Frederick, Md.’s Flying Dog Brewery and famed artist Ralph Steadman, whose work adorns its labels; and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. It’s signed by Ilya Shapiro and Thomas Berry and written with Trevor Burrus’s assistance.

NSFW warning: as hinted, this brief uses obscene and disparaging words and phrases by the dozens and dozens, so be forewarned.

September 7 roundup

  • Bad Texas law requiring breweries to give away territorial rights for free violates state constitution, judge says [Eric Boehm]
  • California’s identity theft statute bans so many more things than just identity theft [Eugene Volokh]
  • Cato Unbound symposium on Indian Child Welfare Act/ICWA, to which I contributed, wraps up [Timothy Sandefur on sovereignty and fixes] Minnesota’s Indian foster care crisis [Brandon Stahl and MaryJo Webster, Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
  • If you want to hear me translated into Arabic on bathroom and gender issues, here you go [Al-Hurra back in May]
  • Asset forfeiture: “New Mexico Passed a Law Ending Civil Forfeiture. Albuquerque Ignored It, and Now It’s Getting Sued” [C.J. Ciaramella] “IRS Agrees to Withdraw Retaliatory Grand Jury Subpoena Against Connecticut Bakery” [Institute for Justice] “California Asset Forfeiture Reform Heading to Approval” [Scott Shackford]
  • Evergreen: “‘I never thought leopards would eat MY face,’ sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party.” [Adrian Bott]

Food and nanny state roundup

  • Has Obama administration endorsed anti-GMO campaign with new labeling law? Not really [Thomas Firey, Cato, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • United Nations anti-tobacco meeting seeks to exclude persons overly involved with tobacco production, ban list turns out to include many officials of member governments [Huffington Post UK]
  • Dumping Michigan tart cherries to comply with USDA marketing order? There must be a better way [Baylen Linnekin]
  • “I am the man, the very fat man, who waters the workers’ beer.” [Science Daily, prompting Christopher Snowdon’s recollection of that line of song]
  • Feds alone have spent $500 million chasing food-desert mirage, with “negligible” impact on health [Mac McCann, Dallas News, earlier]
  • “FDA Assigns Zero Value To Smokers Who Die Because Of Its E-Cigarette Regulations” [Jacob Sullum, more on vaping]

August 3 roundup

July 6 roundup

  • Lawyers try contortions to fit Sandy Hook gun suit into “negligent entrustment” mold [Daniel Fisher, more, earlier]
  • Judge Gonzalo Curiel, lately in news, tosses class action claiming MillerCoors misrepresented Blue Moon beer as “craft” [Reuters]
  • Orlando murderer’s father: The nightclub’s sort of at fault here too, you know [AllahPundit]
  • “The long, strange saga of Harry Reid and the exercise band” [Amber Phillips, Washington Post/San Luis Obispo Tribune]
  • “Prominent Toronto lawyer ordered to pay $114K for role in pursuing ‘unreasonable’ lawsuits” [National Post]
  • That fabled transparency: U.S. Dept. of Justice doesn’t seem to welcome outside scrutiny of its FCPA enforcement [Mike Koehler, FCPA Professor]

Free speech roundup

  • Our defense of free expression should go beyond the utilitarian and consequentialist: Flemming Rose’s acceptance speech last week on receiving the Cato Institute’s 2016 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty [Cato Daily Podcast, WSJ “Notable and Quotable” excerpt, earlier; Michael Tanner on Rose’s role in the Mohammed cartoons episode and more recent Cato book, The Tyranny of Silence; my related post in context of Copenhagen terrorist attack]
  • Virgin Islands attorney general withdraws D.C. subpoena demanding 10 years of records from Competitive Enterprise Institute in “climate denial” probe, in what looks to be a tactical fallback rather than a durable concession of CEI’s rights [CEI; John Sexton]
  • FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) launches every-other-week podcast series, kicked off by interview with Jonathan Rauch, author of Kindly Inquisitors [“So To Speak“]
  • “Tax Prep Company Tries To Sue Unhappy Customer Into Silence; Hit With Damages In Anti-SLAPP Order” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]
  • Media law has intersected with champerty and maintenance in the copyright complaint campaigns of recent years [earlier, OpenSource, and CopyHype on RightHaven episode]
  • One of my community’s favorite businesses, Flying Dog Brewery, is using the damages received from a legal battle with the state of Michigan over its Raging Bitch IPA label to found a nonprofit “First Amendment Society” dedicated to “awareness-raising and advocacy around free-speech issues and organizing events that promote “the arts, journalism and civil liberties”; on Wednesday I attended its kickoff press conference in Washington, D.C. with civil rights lawyer (and friend of this site) Alan Gura and Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso [Ronald Collins, Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason, Flying Dog, earlier]

Food and drink roundup

  • Arizona considers relaxing its law banning potluck meals outside workplace [KPHO]
  • Class action says there is starch in McDonald’s mozzarella sticks and wants money for that [Eater]
  • Small North Carolina brewer pulls out of one market rather than trigger state law forcing it to deal through licensed distributors [Charlotte Business Journal]
  • Speaking of consumer-unfriendly laws that benefit in-state alcohol distributors with political clout, South Carolina considers adding an “at-rest” law to its three-tier regulatory system [Columbia, S.C. Free Times]
  • “These decisions are being made by people who are four to five generations removed from food production.” [Oregon rancher Keith Nantz, Washington Post, on federal land policy]
  • Freakout memes aside, shed no tears for country-of-origin-labeling on meat [K. William Watson/Cato, Jayson Lusk] “Reign of Terroir: How to Resist Europe’s Efforts to Control Common Food Names as Geographical Indications” [K. William Watson/Cato]
  • “Drunk with power — how Prohibition led to big government” [Julia Vitullo-Martin, New York Post reviewing Lisa McGirr, The War On Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State]

Calorie labels and craft brewers

The Obamacare/FDA calorie-label provision, which we’ve met before, “requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to list calorie information for ‘standard menu items,’ including each available beer, on menus and menu boards by December 2016. Testing the nutritional content of a single beer could cost as much as $1,000, according to the Beer Institute, a trade association representing brewers.” For craft brewers, the costs of testing every variant small-run flavor can add up fast. And unless a brewer is willing to pre-emptively shell out for testing in advance at its own risk, it may miss out on the chance to make the jump into chain distribution: “Restaurants interested in carrying a craft beer may not want to wait for testing to be done and will move on to beers that already have nutritional information.” [Michelle Minton, Real Clear Policy]