Protecting Your Brewery From SLA Underage Violations

July 24th, 2019 • by Rob Dettman
Rob Dettman

Rob Dettman

I’ve been in the insurance industry for 10 years, with an emphasis on workers compensation. A few years ago I decided to focus on the craft beverage industry as I love the product, the people involved, and what those businesses mean to New York. My goal is to help the craft beverage industry better understand their risks, reduce costs, and help keep their employees safe. Feel free to connect with me on Linked In, follow me on Twitter, or simply give me a call with any questions you have on how to reduce your premiums, improve your safety, and better protect your business. You focus on making great beer, I’ll focus on making sure you can continue to do so!

The SLA recently conducted a sting operation for underage drinking and a few breweries were cited with violations. The violations are often accompanied with fines from $10,000 to $30,000 and can result in the loss of your liquor license for repeat offenses. Of the six breweries visited by the SLA, all were considered in violation and slapped with a fine. Given the success of the operation, it is expected that more breweries will be visited.

Here are some strategies to ensure that your brewery does not inadvertently serve to someone who is under the 21 year old drinking age in NY.

  • Have all employees sign a liquor liability employee agreement
    that outlines an employee’s responsibilities and best practices with respect to serving alcohol.
  • It is best for breweries to adopt a “Wegman’s type policy” whereby everyone is asked to show identification of age regardless of their appearance or whether they are known by the staff.
  • Acceptable forms of identification should be passports, military ID’s, or valid driver’s licenses only. Make sure to check the expiration date as well as the date of birth. Special caution should be used with out of state licenses.
  • Any individual customer should be served by only one bartender as opposed to multiple bartenders serving the same customer. This helps ensure that the person is being served by the person who checked their ID.
  • Bartenders and owners should be aware of where the person purchasing the beer is going within the establishment and who the beer is being consumed by. Keep an eye out for cases where a legal customer is delivering beer to an underage person.

Post updated 8/13/19 by Paul Leone, NYSBA Executive Director: The SLA has informed the NYSBA that they will be conducting undercover operations throughout the state and fining all breweries that are serving to minors (they are also covering wineries and retail establishments). So far a surprising number of breweries have already been hit with stiff fines for serving to under age drinkers. They instructed us to pass along a link to information on ATAP (Alcohol Training Awareness Program) and what you need to know when it comes to your responsibility when it comes to ID’ing patrons. Fines can be reduced if you and your employees go through ATAP or Tips training.