According to TTB, Modus Operandi Cellars, LLC, a bonded winery in St. Helena, California, was served a one day suspension of its basic permit.  In its press release, TTB said, “over the course of almost two years, Modus Operandi Cellars, LLC, engaged in consignment sales of wine to wholesalers who were not obligated to pay for the wine until after it had been sold to retailers.  Consignment sales arrangements, like other unlawful trade practices, are used to gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding industry members and ultimately limit consumer choice.”  

San Francisco’s Black Hammer Brewing was ordered by the TTB to cease production of all of its CBD beers. The TTB requires special approval for any non-standard beer ingredients, which the brewery did not receive. Plenty of materials that are food-safe aren’t on that list, so breweries will often apply for special approval of their formula when they want to use one. Hemp is not on the list. Nor are terpenes, the compounds that Black Hammer uses to imbue beers with that cannabis flavor. The hemp-derived CBD does not have any flavor on its own. Black Hammer intends on complying with the TTB regulations, and has already begun the process of applying for approval for hemp so that it can resume CBD brewing. In the meantime, the brewery can sell the CBD infused beers that it has already produced.

  After recently recently reaching a settlement with Heineken USA Inc., the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (“CABC”), has reached another settlement for $400,000 with Anheuser-Busch, LLC wholesalers and a $10,000 settlement with Straub Distributing Company LTD for unfair marketing practices aimed at retail licensees. Additionally, approximately 34 retail licensees also received disciplinary sanctions levied against their ABC licenses for their related activities. According to a CABC press release, the division’s Trade Enforcement Unit conducted an investigation that began in 2015. The investigation found that the wholesalers covered the cost of, or partially financed, refrigeration units, television sets and draught systems at retailers in Southern California who are part of Anheuser-Busch LLC’s distribution network. California law states that wholesalers cannot provide things of values to retailers. Such actions create an unfair marketplace as it can cause undue influence over retailers at the expense of competing wholesalers. The settlement is one of the largest imposed by the CABC. The CABC said “as part of the settlement by Anheuser-Busch, LLC, the company must provide training to its current and newly hired employees regarding the administration of a rental or lease program of Anheuser-Busch, LLC refrigeration equipment by a company unit within the confines of law. In exchange for suspension of $200,000 of the fine, Anheuser-Busch, LLC agreed to extend the conditions of discipline to all Anheuser-Busch, LLC wholesalers in the state.” A lesson to others in the industry regarding the importance of training. Failure to comply with the terms of the agreement may…

Posted in alcohol beverage law, beer, CABC, California | Tagged Busch, California, Oren, trade practice | Comments Off