The Golden Rule Pays Off for Woodbury Distillers

By - January 27, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Jack Daniels does it, so why can’t we?

This is the spirit that drives the Kauffman bothers of Woodbury Tennessee to pioneer the opening of a new distillery in a dry county in rural Tennessee. Their dream is about to come to fruition for their company, Golden Rule Distilling Company.

At the link is a photo of master distiller Josh Smotherman with one of the stills.

Short Mountain Distillery is in a picturesque setting in Southern Middle Tennessee. Problem is, the county is dry. No liquor stores or bars.

That did not stop the Kauffman’s. They lead a county-wide election that successfully approved of distilling in Cannon County. In a county where you cannot buy booze at a store or a restaurant. Some would say they did the impossible.

Short Mountain Shine has some real professionals distilling authentic Tennessee whiskey – three experienced local moonshiners are distilling Short Mountain Shine.

Working with Golden Rule COO Christian Grantham, we helped navigate the byzantine labyrinth of federal, state and local registrations and laws. At the January 2012 Tennessee ABC meeting, Short Mountain got final approval from the state liquor board.

We expect Short Mountain to begin distilling this spring.

Serious Spanking for Sales to Minors

By - January 25, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

La Hacienda of Franklin incurred the wrath of the Tennessee ABC today, January 25, 2012. The ABC laid down the law and imposed a $10,000 fine plus a 30 day suspension for six sales to minors on Cinco de Mayo.

We bet the the owners of the popular Mexican eatery wished they had just paid the original fine. La Hacienda was cited for six counts of sales to minors and asked to pay a fine of $9,000, based on $1,500 for each sale.

We encourage owners to resolve citations by negotiating with ABC staff. The other option is to set the citation for hearing before an administrative judge, which is what La Hacienda did.

The administrative judge was not as charitable as the ABC staff and, after the hearing, imposed a 60 day suspension. La Hacienda had a history of sales to minors that did not play well in court – they had three or four prior violations. And with a table full of six minors illegally quaffing alcoholic beverages on Cinco de Mayo, the case was not good.

At the hearing today, ABC Commissioner Jones made it clear: “We will not tolerate continued sales to minors.”

The Commissioners recognized the tremendous financial hardship of suspensions, and offered the restaurant the option paying a $10,000 fine for a 30 day reduction of the 60 day suspension. The owners choose the fine and will pay $10,000 and then serve a 30 day suspension.

ABC Director Elks mentioned that the staff would speak to the Franklin Beer Board about the ABC penalty. The Franklin Beer Board has a reputation for imposing harsh penalties for repeat sales to minors. La Hacienda’s woes may only be beginning.

Will We Be Sipping Wine at Nashville Sidewalk Cafes Like Gay Paris?

By - January 19, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Mayor Karl Dean spoke about relaxed rules for sidewalk cafe seating at the Downtown Nashville Partnership’s January open house meeting, reports Bone McAllester Alcoholic Beverage Team member Rob Pinson.

Under current ABC and Metro Beer Board views of the law, outdoor seating must have a barrier to prevent folks from leaving with a drink or passing a drink to someone outside the patio. Historically, regulators have required a permanent barrier, like an iron railing.

Relatively narrow Nashville sidewalks do not have enough room for traditional patios. Ideally, sidewalk cafe seating would not be permanent. Blocking off valuable sidewalk space only makes sense when folks will be sitting outdoors. Who wants to sit outside right now in the middle of the winter?

Mayor Dean made a point of speaking in favor of sidewalk cafe seating. Mayor Dean does not make a habit of publicly discussing a subject, unless he is interested in making a change. The lobbyist for the Tennessee Hospitality Association spoke to the Metro Beer Board about the issue at the last meeting. We hear that no specifics were discussed.

We look for movement on this issue before winter thaws. Stay posted.

Jackalope Fires Up Big Girl Brew Kettle

By - January 18, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Jackalope Brewery opened in May 2011 with mystique befitting of the mythical namesake killer hare. 

Jackalope founders Bailey Spaulding and Robyn Virball initially opened the Nashville tap room for just a few hours a week. Buzz among beer aficionados drew crowds that quickly drained the limited supply of beer.

Recently, Jackalope has been appearing at area watering holes. Spaulding says: “We’re so excited to have our brews on tap at great places around town.”

Jackalope’s full scale brewing equipment came on line earlier this month. Spaulding and Virball can now brew enough beer to share the successful suds with more fans.

Spaulding is enthusiastic about the new big girl brew kettle: “I’ve been brewing beer for about five years in small batches, and its pretty surreal that in the course of three weeks, I brewed more gallons of beer than I previously brewed in my entire life.”

You can now quaff Jackalope at:

12 South Tap Room
Broadway Brewhouse Midtown
Flying Saucer
Village Pub
Beyond the Edge
Frugal MacDoogal
Midtown Wine and Spirits
Family Wash
Corsair’s Tap Room
Beer Sellar

The tap room at 701 Eighth Avenue South is now open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 to 8 pm.

Tennessee Whiskey for and by Bikers

By - January 12, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

News broke about a distillery project we are working on with the owner of Full Throttle Saloon, which is the site of a top 10 cable TV series. Read more here.

Full Throttle Saloon is billed as the world’s largest biker bar, located in Sturgis, South Dakota. The bar is only open for 10 days a year in August. More than 300,000 people visit Full Throttle during the annual event. Being open only 10 days a year has been hugely successful for Full Throttle.

Turns out, Full Throttle Saloon owner Michael Ballard hails from the Dyersburg area in Northwest Tennessee. And he wants to distill spirits. He has recipes and is ready to start making Tennessee whiskey, legally. That’s where we come in.

Jack Daniels is a popular tourist site for bikers. We expect Ballard’s Tennessee distillery to become an instant destination for bikers and other fans of the popular TV show.

Whole Foods Legally Sells Wine in Groceries

By - January 03, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Whole Foods quietly rolled out wine and high alc beer at its new location in Franklin on McEwen Drive. Working within existing Tennessee laws, Whole Foods offers select wine and high alc beers at its restaurant 1799 & Vine, located inside the grocery store. The CityPaper has more.

Whole Foods has worked with our liquor team since coming to the state a few years ago. For construction of the Franklin store, we helped the grocer build a store that legally allows the sale of wine – without changing existing laws.

Essentially, Whole Foods Franklin has a separate restaurant inside the grocery. Like restaurants, it sells food. It also sells beer, wine and high alc beer with meals. During the construction of the store, we worked closely with ABC officials to ensure that the store would qualify for a restaurant license, once built. Whole Foods management has patiently worked to ensure compliance with arcane Tennessee liquor laws.

The concept of selling wine at a grocery store is very controversial. Whole Foods has respected the laws and been an exemplary model for playing within the existing rules.

Food Trucks Cocktailing?

By - January 02, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Food trucks have rapidly proliferated, bringing a plethora of new ethic and gourmet options to foodies. The explosion in food truck growth has rocked the local restaurant scene.

Local food fans welcome the new food options, but lament the competitive advantage food trucks have over local restaurants because of the lack of rent and traditional build out costs.

A new controversy is looming. Food critics are talking about the next trend with food trucks – cocktails. Read more here.

We do not see cocktails being a viable option for food trucks in Tennessee. The Tennessee ABC has a catering permit that allows service of wine and spirits at mobile locations. However, the license also requires a permanent catering hall. Based on our experience, this is a kitchen in a fixed location, an expense food trucks avoid.

More importantly, the ABC has traditionally required that any place where catered alcohol is served must have a defined premises. For example, restaurants have fenced in patios and nonprofit fundraisers have fencing around outside areas.

In contrast, food trucks usually serve in open areas like parking lots.

Another huge issue is the lack of catering permits for beer in most cities.

We do not see cocktailing as the next big thing for food trucks in Tennessee.