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Memphis City Council set to vote today on ordinance to allow beer tastings at grocery stores

November 20, 2012 By: mike Category: Craft beer, Government, Memphis

beer sampleA proposed law that would allow limited beer tastings at Memphis grocery stores is up for a final vote today by the City Council.

The proposal, which is an ordinance that will be heard on third and final reading, would allow on-site beer tastings at grocery stores and other retailers with city-issued licenses to sell beer for off-premise consumption. The tastings would be allowed for “promotional and educational purposes.”

We first mentioned this proposal back in September when it was endorsed by a council committee. Since then, the ordinance has been delayed amid concerns over its lack of specifics, according to a story in the Memphis Flyer.

According to Rich Foge, president of the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association, the ordinance lacked clear rules and regulations about which licensed stores could hold beer tastings, when and how often tastings could be held, and what size samples could be distributed. [source]

The latest version of the ordinance, which you can read below, calls for the Memphis Alcohol Commission to “promulgate rules for conducting beer tastings.”

The proposal was sparked after a local Whole Foods store could not host a Yazoo Brewing Company beer tasting. Yazoo’s Ivan Chester tweeted his support for the measure last week.

Memphis City Councilman Shea Flinn is sponsoring the proposal.

The state legislature recently passed a law allowing Tennessee liquor stores to hold tastings, and “Memphis retailers selling beer for off-­premise consumption should enjoy the same privilege,” Flinn’s proposal says.

It also notes that “craft, locally manufactured, and specialty beers have become extremely popular and sales of these products take over a larger share of the market each year; holders of licenses to sell beer for off-premise consumption would like to be able to conduct product tastings in their stores, providing free, small samples of products sold to customers for promotional and educational purposes, which is not permitted under the current Code of Ordinances.”

If approved, the measure would follow other recent changes in local beer laws, including the elimination of the requirement to sell food at breweries with tasting rooms as well as zoning changes that make it easier to open a brewery in the Memphis area.

The City Council meets today at 3:30 p.m., in the council chambers of City Hall, 125 N. Main.

Proposed Memphis beer tasting ordinance

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