Craft Beer is a Billion-Dollar Economic Driver in CO

As today is National Beer Day, what better way to celebrate than talking about beer! According to a study released by the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business in association with the Colorado Brewers Guild, small, locally-owned breweries had an overall economic impact of 1.15 billion dollars on the Colorado Economy for the year of 2014, and it employs over 6,000 workers in Colorado.

This is good news for Colorado as one of the top craft beer brewing states in the country. At the end of last year’s count, there were 261 craft breweries in Colorado, with more and more popping up all the time. The latest figures now have the count at over 300! Altogether, this means that you likely don’t have to go very far to find excellent beer in or near your neighborhood. These Colorado craft beer brewers are made up of small businesses that simply love great beer and Colorado. They just want to share their passion with others, and consumers have been buying.

Overall, the craft beer takeover is not showing any signs of slowing down yet, but how long can it continue to grow at these rates? This is growing concern. How much is too much craft beer in one area? As far as the national numbers go, craft beer is still only sitting at just over 12% of the beer market share, but more locally, the market may be experiencing a lot more crowding. The growth and interest in craft beer is likely making the bigger, national brewers nervous too, who may be looking to buy some of the smaller brewers or get more creative with their own beer offerings to try to compete.

Another ongoing concern for craft brewers is a potential ballot initiative that would allow for grocery stores and other big retailers to be able to start selling full-strength beer inside, an issue we discussed previously here. They fear this could lead to more consumers opting for buying some of the more national brand offerings at these larger stores rather than going to their local liquor stores who tend to have large selections of local, craft beer offerings. Then there is also the impact on local small business liquor store owners being affected by the change as well. Craft beer is certainly an industry worth watching here in Colorado, whether you work in small or big business.

If you need legal help for your craft brewery, then don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Sign Up For Our Email Newsletter

Privacy by SafeSubscribeSM





Full-strength Beer and Wine: Why Aren’t They in My Local Grocery Store?

Last July, the Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division published this information:

“The boom of the alcohol industry in Colorado is quite evident. In the last three years, the number of manufacturer breweries has more than tripled; from 60 to 182. During the same time, the number of distilleries has gone from 33 to 70; over double.”

Yet even though Colorado is one of the top states in the nation when it comes to craft and micro brews — just take a look at how breweries have sprung up like summer dandelions in Denver, Boulder, and the surrounding areas — the laws around selling beer higher than 3.2% alcohol by weight in grocery stores is still in effect. Why?

Prohibition. That’s where it all started.

Here’s a mini refresher: in 1933, Congress voted to repeal Prohibition. (FDR actually campaigned on the importance of alcohol to our nation, and vowed to end Prohibition if he were elected.) In 1935, the Colorado General Assembly enacted the state’s liquor code, underlining the difference between “non-intoxicating” 3.2% beer and other types of alcohol. Private liquor stores were allowed to sell only alcohol, no food, and grocery stores could sell beer only if it was 3.2% alcohol by weight.

The part that doesn’t really make sense is that this law is still in effect in Colorado, while a whopping 42 of the states in the union sell “real” beer and wine in grocery stores.

Since the U.S. is the second highest producer of beer and the third highest of wine in the world, those beverages are crucial when it comes to our economy.

Your Choice Colorado, a coalition backed by King Soopers, Safeway, and Walmart, is drafting a ballot that will allow Colorado voters to decide if they should be able to pick up full-strength beer and wine at the same place they buy their roast chicken and salad fixings.

Hard liquor sales will remain unique to liquor stores.

“The customer is changing, and we have to change with the customer,” said Kelli McGannon, a spokeswoman for King Soopers, the Colorado-based division of Kroger Co. “Our customers value time as much as money and are looking for convenience. Colorado’s market has changed — Colorado is one of the fastest-growing states in the country, and people are moving here from other states where this is something they had.”

One of every store in a retail chain per state can have a full liquor license, which is why you can’t buy wine in Trader Joe’s in Boulder but you can in Denver.

Liquor store owners, who have traditionally opposed changing this law, say that they will be hard hit if it goes through, as their sales will be negatively impacted. We’ll see if the ability to put a bottle of Sauvignon in the same cart with your fruit and veggies will trump tradition when it goes to a vote.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Sign Up For Our Email Newsletter

Privacy by SafeSubscribeSM





Balancing Trademark Protection and Public Relations

Business is business, and the law is the law. Sometimes the combination of these two are unavoidable, even necessary, such as when it comes to business entity formation, contracts, licensing, permits, and the list goes on. In today’s electronic and technology-driven economy, intangible or intellectual property is becoming even more valuable than ever. When it comes to businesses, a lot of this comes down to their brand, their name, their slogans, which often use trademark protection to solidify and help protect these intangibles.

Trademarks as a system, were fundamentally designed to help avoid consumer confusion. That is ultimately the purpose. Trademark rights and protections are designed to prevent other businesses from coming up with products that use other business’ names, phrases, and sometimes even look and feel, sound, or color, which can cause consumers to buy something they thought was made by someone else because they were confused. Imagine a world without trademark protection. You’d probably never know for sure if those shoes with the Swoosh on them were actually made by Nike or not!

In an interesting local trademark story, a while back, Longmont-based craft beermaker, Left Hand Brewing Company, tried to register the trademark for the word “Nitro” as it relates to beer, after it came out with its Milk Stout Nitro beer. This is not the first time we have talked about craft brewery trademark issues, and it likely won’t be the last. Craft brewery trademark disputes are becoming more and more common.

In this case, the company wanted to use the word Nitro to distinguish its nitrogenated beers. It may seem like a harmless thing to do, but boy did it bring the company a lot of trouble. Other companies took action when they saw Left Hand trying to trademark the word, maybe you’ve heard of some of them, they include the makers of Budweiser, Samuel Adams, and Guinness!

Left Hand claimed it was doing it to prevent a bigger beermaker from ultimately registering the trademark, but due to the legal action from other brewers and the upset from the craft beer community over Left Hand’s actions, the company ultimately withdrew its efforts. Craft beerdrinkers were upset that Left Hand was trying to essentially “own” the word Nitro as it relates to beer. Other brewers use nitrogen in their products too, and being such a clear choice for a descriptive word, it only makes sense to use it to differentiate it from traditionally carbonated products.

Let this be a lesson. Whenever your business is thinking about asserting intellectual property rights or trademarks over something, it is important to think of it not only as a legal decision but a business decision as well. Businesses must think about how these actions will impact their competitors and how they might respond. Additionally, the way existing and potential consumers of your business’ products may respond to the news is critical to consider too.

Even if you may have a valid legal claim to something, it may not always be the best business decision to pursue it to the fullest. Cost-benefit analysis is key to situations like this, and it is clearly a good idea to consider both the business and legal ramifications of the different courses of action available to you. Branding is about more than logos, names, trademarks, etc. It is about the image your portray as a company, and a growing component of that is how litigious the company is, especially if it can be perceived as an “unfair” or “unnecessary” use of the legal system.

If your business needs help regarding a trademark, other intellectual property, or other business legal needs, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Full-Strength Beer & Liquor in Grocery Stores

Recently, there has been a greater push to allow grocery stores and other chains like Target to be able to sell liquor, wine, and full-strength beer at all of their locations. Currently, Colorado law only permits one liquor license per business for the entire state, which means that only one location of a chain of stores is able to sell liquor, wine, and full-strength beer. Other locations are limited to only being able to sell 3.2% beer and wine coolers. Now, supporters of this change are working to get the necessary signatures to take the measure to voters directly, rather than rely on the legislature to make the changes.

The possibility of change brings up opposing concerns from different groups around Colorado. Primarily, large supermarkets and other grocery chains would like to be able to provide their customers with a one-stop-shopping experience at all of their locations, to make shopping for groceries and alcohol more convenient for shoppers. However, due to the current laws, there are currently hundreds of locally owned and operated liquor stores peppered throughout the state to meet consumers’ demand. These small business owners are facing a potentially huge loss of business if these changes take place. They are worried that they will have to cut employees and potentially shut down altogether if they are competing with bigger grocers.

With Colorado being a hub for craft beer brewers, this too could present a difficult issue for them as well. Craft brewers may find it more difficult to get their products on the shelves of larger retailers and with potentially fewer, smaller liquor stores, which could hurt their businesses as well. At the same time, smaller liquor stores might be able to try leveraging their craft beer selection and expertise to keep consumers coming to them for their beer needs, instead of picking up something at the bigger grocery stores.

Some say that it is the local nature of liquor stores and breweries, which were influenced at least in part by the current laws, that encouraged Colorado’s independent craft beer culture. They don’t want to see that culture change and want to keep the jobs and revenue here in Colorado and going to Colorado businesses, instead of larger regional and national chains.

Either way, it will be interesting to see how this issue continues to develop.

 

If you have questions about legal matters for your business, don’t hesitate to   reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, PC, home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.