Categorized under: beer laws

Five Dollar Trinket law – Battle Brewing

Hello fellow beer friends,

I am not a lawyer or have any legal background, but I continually find myself intrigued by laws involving the beer market. In case you forgot, we followed the “Free the Hops Movement” , 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, along with the “Battle in Denver over right to sell beer”.

I am not alone in this feeling, but it’s easy to be on the side of the little guy – sharing the view of the consumer and the small business. Everyone understands/appreciates the fight of the mom and pop store, but still takes advantage of the price break offered by the consumer giants. We need to look out for our neighbors, but when it comes down to it, we look out for ourselves.

Putting that all aside, I have a hard time taking side of the little guys here. I say, lets modify this law and allow free trinkets. If a consumer is going to choose budweiser because they received a 2 dollar koozie, I find it difficult to believe that the same consumer would be interested in purchasing a Smuttynose Imperial stout. Yes, it’s an amazing beer — but does not match up with the palate of the consumer. 

What do YOU think? — Add a comment if you want.


Drink Craft Beer, You’ve Earned It!!

Fight brewing over new beer bill – Small companies say sales could suffer with more Budweiser giveaways.
By Peter Hecht / The Sacramento Bee

At the Rubicon Brewing Company in Sacramento and St. Stan’s brewery in Modesto, small craft beer makers are foaming over a state Capitol power play by Big Bud.

To the average beer drinker, it may not seem worth losing your buzz over. But a bid by the Anheuser-Busch Co., maker of Budweiser, Bud Lite and Michelob beers, to change state law for doling out promotional swag is stirring the microbrewers into macro action.

Anheuser-Busch hopes to sell more Bud and potentially improve marketing and product placement by giving out T-shirts, caps and other freebees.

So it is asking the Legislature to change California law to allow beer companies and distributors to offer souvenirs worth up to $5. The state currently limits beer promotional items to a value of 25 cents.

But small beer makers are brewing a promotional campaign to stop the legislation Assembly Bill 1245 against some tall odds. The bill has already sailed through the Assembly on 75-0 vote and is headed for the state Senate floor.

So Susan Little-Nell, owner of St. Stan’s Brewing Co., is writing lawmakers, complaining about soaring costs of hops, wheat and barley used to craft her frothy brews. She said she fears losing retail shelf space and bar tap access in the face of “free-for-all promotional spending of international corporations.”

At the Sacramento Brewing Company, where T-shirts for the brew pub’s Red Horse Ale amber or Sac-Squatch peat roast malt sell for $17.95, owner George Irwin says he can’t compete with big beer companies that can produce and dole out shirts for pennies on the dollar.

“Bud can buy containers full of trinkets from China but for a craft beer maker it can be a big expense,” he said.

Glynn Phillips, owner of the Sacramento Brewing Co., said he fears Anheuser-Busch is trying to buy something else: an increasing share of beer taps to place more of its products in California bars and restaurants. He said tavern owners may be enticed to assign limited draft space to Budweiser or Michelob Amber instead of his Rubicon India Pale as customers are lured by promotional giveaways.

“There is a intense competitiveness in the marketplace for draft handles,” Phillips said. “Even though big brewers say they’re not giving away these T-shirts and other free items to get more handle space, go ask any retailer. In order for me to get space, I’ve got to compete with that.”

Andrew Baldonado, Anheuser-Busch’s director of governmental affairs, said the brewer is reacting to its own marketing challenge.

He said the company wants the same promotional opportunities as winemakers and spirits companies.

Under state law, for example, Jose Cuervo tequila and Smirnoff vodka are already allowed to dole out $5 items.

With 8,500 workers and breweries in Fairfield and Van Nuys, Anheuser-Busch is one of California’s major employers. It has contributed nearly $390,000 to state political candidates since 2007.

Baldonado says Anheuser-Busch has made concessions to small brewers worried about its marketing clout. He said the company agreed to amend AB 1245 to phase in increases in giveaways — starting with a $3 limit in 2009, then expanding to $4 in 2010 and $5 in 2011.

Baldonaldo said small brew pubs haven’t suffered due to similar marketing giveaways allowed in other states.

“The argument that the tried and true beer drinker is going to switch from their craft beer to Bud Light because some sales person gave them a Bud Light T-shirt is ludicrous,” he said. “It’s not going to happen.”

The reporter can be reached at or (916) 326-5539

Link to original article. 

  • Glynn Phillips


    The fight is not with the consumer but the ability the change in this law gives A-B to influence retailers. My fight is already difficult out there in the world of beer sales. We as small brewers are battling every day over shelf space tap handles and the ability to get our beer to you the consumer. This bill gives great power to A-B or someone with a big pocket book to change the beer landscape that you see. For example if me (as a pub owner) was solicited by Brewery x and promised promotional giveaways to all my customers backed with local marketing and advertising, I would take it. Me as a beer sales person (for brewery x) would then say since we are going to be doing so much for your pub why don’t you add a tap or two of our beer? We little guys just do not have the ability to do that. The law as it stands right now limits that. I will admit that it is a very simple way of looking at a complex problem. So I will leave you with one last thought; California as a state at the World Beer Cup in 2008 won more meddles than any other State in the US, and California also won more meddles than any other country in the world. California is one of the last states left that limits give aways. I hope that this helps clear the air about AB 1245.

    Cheers for good beer,

    Glynn Phillips
    Owner / Rubicon Brewing Company

  • James


    Your meddles deserve a medal.

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  • Hi Sean,

    It isn’t the Budweiser products you see, it is the ‘distribution rights’ of ‘owned’ brands they carry…. which are microbrews and AB carries the muscle. TC

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