On Thursday, October 8, 2015 Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1295, commonly called the Craft Distillers Act of 2015. The new law creates a “craft distiller’s license” which allows micro-distillers the ability to sell directly to customers.

“This historic legislation changes prohibition era laws for craft distillers to reflect the modern marketplace. AB 1295 allows craft distillers to operate in a similar manner as wineries and breweries under existing law,” says bill sponsor Marc Levine (D-San Rafael). “This bill helps craft distillers to be competitive with large out-of-state distillers. Growth of the craft distillery industry means jobs in our local communities.”

Nationwide, artisan distilling is seeing substantial growth. According the American Distilling Institute, within the last decade the number of licensed craft distilleries operating with the US has expanded from just 50 in 2005 to over 650 this year. This legislation will further assist the niche industry’s growth and encourage the game changing innovation for which California is known.

Specifically, AB 1295 allows distillers who manufacture up to 100,000 gallons of distilled spirits, not including brandy, to:

  • Provide tastings of 1.5oz per individual per day of their product. Tasting may include a non-alcoholic mixer.
  • Sell up to 2.25 liters in any combination of prepackaged containers per consumer per day
  • Sell all beers, wines, brandies, or distilled spirits to consumers for consumption on the premises in a bona fide eating-place located on the premises.
  • Conduct tastings off the premises for an event sponsored by a nonprofit organization. Sales may not be made at the event.

The law prohibits the issuance of a “craft distiller’s license” to any person, officer, director, employee or agent of a distilled spirits manufacturer that produces more than 100,000 gallons annually or any person that is affiliated with a wholesaler.

Licenses will be issued and regulated by the California Department of Beverage Control. The fee for the new license has not yet been released.

Michael Brewer is the president of Alcoholic Beverage Consulting Service, and co-founder of License Locators, one of California’s largest liquor license brokerage firms. He has been assisting licensess with through the licensing process for over twenty years. Mr. Brewer has been a guest lecturer at numerous professional organization including San Diego State University, the Escrow Training Institute, California Association of Business Brokers, and the San Diego Brewers Guild. Prior to joining ABCS, Mr. Brewer was a regulatory auditor for the United States Custom Service and holds a Master’s degree in accounting from San Diego State University. Mr. Brewer is an associate member of the California Restaurant Association, California Beer and Beverage Distributors, California Association of Business Brokers, the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators and is a founding member of the Alliance of Alcohol Industry Attorneys and Consultants.