Tennessee cracks down on takeout beer

Associated Press • Feb 9, 2013 at 6:26 AM

MARYVILLE, Tenn. -- State officials are once again cracking down on restaurants selling takeout craft beer.

The Daily Times (http://bit.ly/WyLywr) reports the actions have led managers of the Copper Cellar family of restaurants to stop selling the beer to customers who want to take it home.

According to state regulators, restaurants aren't allowed to sell alcohol to go -- only breweries that meet certain requirements can sell take-home products.

Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission assistant Director Keith Bell sent a memo to restaurants about the rule after the agency become aware of "growlers," which are jugs filled with draft beer that customers can leave with.

Copper Cellar COO Bart Fricks said sales have stopped. The move is temporary in some locations, but will be permanent in Maryville barring a change in state law.

"It certainly means that we have ceased selling off-premise beer in four Smoky Mountain Brewery locations and three Calhoun's," Fricks said. "It also means that we are going to have to change our procedures to continue to sell off-premises beer in our three other Smoky Mountain Brewery locations."

There are Smoky Mountain Brewery locations Knoxville, Maryville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Fricks said changes are being made at the three facilities with in-house brewing so that takeout sales can resume.

Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission attorney Ginna Winfree said the law hasn't changed.

"Off-promises sales for off-premises consumption is not allowed in a TABC-licensed restaurant," she said. "However, if a brewery has a contiguous yet separate area, they may sell for off-premises consumption. They have to have an in-house brewery, and it has to be contiguous yet separate."

Fricks said the changes will be made.

"What we have to do is take people into a separate room and give them the beer. ... We're at least set up in those restaurants where we can do that. It's going to be an inconvenience to the people purchasing it, but we can still provide the product for them."

The company is encouraging customers to urge state lawmakers to change the regulation.


Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.thedailytimes.com

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