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New Alcohol Law Provides Business Opportunities for District Alcohol Manufacturers

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

(WASHINGTON, DC) — An alcohol law going into effect today provides new business opportunities for District alcohol manufacturers. The Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act of 2018 became official District law on Tuesday, October 30, 2018.

“The new law improves the regulatory compliance measures utilized by our agency to regulate alcohol businesses across the District,” said Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) Director Fred Moosally. “It also defines and clarifies existing law for licensees and surrounding communities. We are thankful for Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District of Columbia Council’s efforts and support of the new legislation.”

The Omnibus bill allows District manufacturers that make beer, wine or spirits to create and sell collaboration products with other alcohol manufacturers, including those not located in the District. For example, District breweries are now allowed to collaborate and manufacture beer with another brewery regardless of location; permitted to sell collaboration beers for on-premises consumption that are not manufactured at their brewery; and permitted to sell collaboration beers in growlers for off-premises consumption.  

The law also permits manufacturers to sell and deliver alcohol produced at their licensed establishment over the internet directly to homes in the District between 7:00 am and midnight, seven days a week. It also authorizes manufacturers to participate in ABRA's Extended Holiday Hours, Inaugural Week and other types of extended hours programs available to other licensees. Alcohol manufacturers that want to operate and sell alcohol after midnight on a regular basis will undergo a 45 day public comment period. A holder of a manufacturer’s license is now able to file for a one-day substantial change permit up to 12 times per calendar year, allowing for the on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages for a specific event held anywhere in the District; whereas the previous limit was six times per calendar year. Class A and B off-premises licensees are provided a similar option up to six times per calendar year.

The bill also allows off-premises retailer licenses, class A and B, to sell beer or wine in crowlers, with some exceptions.  A crowler is a container that is capable of holding up to 64 ounces of beer or wine and is designed to be filled and sealed on-premises for off-premises consumption. Unlike growlers, that are made of glass, crowlers are disposable cans. The sale of crowlers is prohibited in some areas as a result of ward-specific single-sales moratoriums. The bill also allows all class B off-premises retailers (wine and beer stores) regardless of location to sell growlers of wine, including cider and mead, for off-premises consumption.  Previously, only liquor stores and full-service grocery stores were permitted to sell growlers of wine for off-premises consumption.

For the full details on each of the changes and others, please review the Omnibus bill. Licensees that have questions about the new law can contact ABRA by emailing or calling (202) 442-4423