Governor Cuomo Signs Craft Act

November 14, 2014

New York State is experiencing an outpouring of demand for local craft alcoholic beverage products. Entrepreneurs throughout the state are founding a new wave of breweries, distilleries, and wineries. New York has responded to this outpouring by overhauling the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law and issuing advisories to reduce obstacles that previously limited the opportunities for small manufacturers to reach consumers. New York’s 2014 Craft Act, which Governor Cuomo signed into law on November 13, 2014, is the latest measure in this overhaul.

The 2014 Craft Act affects holders of eight types of licenses: brewers, farm brewers, cider producers, class A-1 distillers, class B-1 distillers, farm distillers, wineries, and farm wineries. The new law includes four main components: it establishes minimum production thresholds, increases maximum production limits, adjusts rules regarding the operation of retail establishments, and adjusts rules regarding tastings and the sale of products. In addition to these four main components, the law authorizes farm distillers to operate a branch location.

Minimum Production Thresholds

The 2014 Craft Act implements minimum production thresholds for each type of license. Brewers and farm brewers must produce at least fifty barrels annually. Each other affected license type must produce at least fifty gallons annually.

Maximum Production Limits

Certain categories of licenses are also subject to increased maximum production limits. The increase will enable these manufacturers to grow their businesses without applying for a different type of license that may require a significant license fee. The maximum production limits are as follows:

License Type Pre-2014 Craft Act Production Limit 2014 Craft Act Production Limit
Farm Brewers 60,000 barrels annually 75,000 barrels annually
Cider Producers and Farm Wineries 150,000 gallons annually 250,000 gallons annually
Class A-1, B-1 and Farm Distillers 35,000 gallons annually 75,000 gallons annually

Retail Establishments

The 2014 Craft Act permits breweries, farm breweries, cider producers, farm distilleries, wineries, and farm wineries to operate certain retail establishments on or adjacent to their manufacturing premises without obtaining an additional license. Previously, the ability to operate certain retail establishments for these manufacturers was limited. The establishment may sell the alcoholic beverage products manufactured by the manufacturer and other similar New York State labeled products. For example, a brewery may sell its beer and other New York State labeled beer, but not wine or liquor. In order to sell other alcoholic beverage products, the manufacturer will still need to apply for a separate license.

Tastings and Sales

Additionally, breweries, cider producers, farm distilleries, and wineries are subject to new restrictions on tastings and the sale of alcohol on its premises. These manufacturers may provide their products and similar New York State labeled products for tastings and sale at retail for consumption on the premises. Again, a brewery may provide its beer and other New York State labeled beer, but not wine or liquor. However, the manufacturer must provide food, such as sandwiches, soups, or finger foods to its customers.

Branch Locations

The final change applies only to farm distillers. Farm distillers may operate a branch office located away from the farm distillery. The farm distillery must notify the State Liquor Authority of the branch location before opening the branch location. The branch location may not be located within or share a common entrance with any other business.

The 2014 Craft Act makes major changes to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. Some of these changes may affect your operations.

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