Brewery Considerations for TTB & SLA

May 2nd, 2023 • by Robyn Adair, Esq.
Robyn Adair, Esq.

Robyn Adair, Esq.

Robyn Adair, Esq. is the principal and founder of The Dirigo Group, LLC, an Albany-based risk management consulting and legal services firm that focuses on licensing, permitting and compliance issues in the craft beverage industry. Over the past two decades, Ms. Adair worked on a variety of legal and policy issues while employed in all levels of State government, which included several recently held positions in the Executive Chamber and as the Acting State Inspector General. Ms. Adair is a home brewer and obtained her professional certificate in Craft Brewing from Cornell University. She is a member of the Speckled Pig Brewing Company’s Founders Club and is an industry supporter.

In the post-Covid world, breweries statewide may be re-evaluating operations, reviewing performance metrics and looking at expansion opportunities. These activities seem timely, given our societal emergence from the pandemic and general desire to find creative and innovative ways to evolve business operations. Now that the first quarter is collectively behind us, we can officially reset our goals and better manage expectations. This course of action may include re-examining the efficacy of current licenses issued by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) and engagement with other State agencies.

Breweries may calculate their existing capacity and compare against production limits; review their business models to estimate annual projected growth; and plan for increased sales and profit margins. These KPIs may demonstrate that a brewery could benefit from larger production facilities or additional locations. Those breweries looking to potentially transition from a farm brewery license (NY ABC Law Section 51-A) to a micro brewer or brewer’s license (NY ABC Law Section 51) should first consult with legal and technical experts to identify risks and prospective mitigation strategies. Similarly, these experts can provide suggestions for revisions to a brewery’s business plan based on statutory and regulatory requirements. Breweries should also be aware of compliance with federal TTB manufacturing license when an expansion is proposed.

Some important items to consider when evaluating the status of your brewery’s current SLA license— aside from annual fees and production limits— include the sale of other products, merchandise and food on-site at the facility. For instance, if your brewery wants to sell food and holds a micro brewer or brewer’s license, you should consult with experts to ensure that State Departments of Health and Agriculture and Markets programmatic requirements are met, like the need for additional permits (NY Agriculture and Markets Law Section 20-C) or participation in food safety inspections. The same course of action should be taken to examine mandates at the federal level with TTB.

Similarly, environmental issues associated with business expansion— particularly water quality and usage, storage of hazardous substances and general sustainability measures— should be discussed with experts and municipal officials to help ensure a brewery’s compliance with the State Environmental Conservation Law.

Finally, the TTB, SLA, State Departments of Environmental Conservation, Health and Agriculture and Markets offer online reference materials, tutorials and technical assistance that can aid in such analyses, in addition to consultation with your legal and technical experts. When a brewery conducts annual goal setting, coupled with implementing risk mitigation measures, it helps to ensure an efficient and seamless business expansion.