Sweeping Changes to CT Liquor Laws
Updated: Jul 25, 2020
The Connecticut General Assembly made significant changes to the Connecticut General Statutes concerning licensing and compliance of liquor permits. I have attached an analysis of the changes. Give me a call to discuss.
OLR Bill Analysis
sSB 647 (File 592, as amended by Senate “A”)*
AN ACT STREAMLINING THE LIQUOR CONTROL ACT.
This bill makes various unrelated changes to the Liquor Control Act
as described in the section-by-section analysis below. The bill does the
1. increases, from nine liters to nine gallons, the daily per person
amount of beer certain beer manufacturer permittees may sell for
off-premises consumption (§ 4);
2. allows cider manufacturer permittees to sell cider and apple
wine for on-premises consumption (§ 4);
3. combines the coliseum and coliseum concession permits and
among other things, allows soccer stadiums to receive such a
permit (§ 20);
4. allows manufacturers to sell non-uniform cases of alcoholic
liquor (e.g., spirits, wine, and beer) (§§ 2, 8 & 9); and
5. increases, from four to eight, the maximum number of times the
Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) commissioner may
allow an entity to sell cases with less than the statutory
minimum number of bottles or quantity of units (§ 2).
It also, beginning (1) July 1, 2019, creates an out-of-state retailers
shipper’s permit for wine to allow direct shipments of wine to in-state
consumers, subject to existing regulations on direct shipments (§ 26)
and (2) January 1, 2020, decreases the excise tax exemption for beer
manufacturer permittees for beer sold for on-premises consumption by
requiring them to pay excise tax for amounts over 15 barrels annually
Researcher: DC Page 2 5/31/19
Beginning July 1, 2020, the bill:
1. (a) consolidates four manufacturer beer permits into one; (b)
limits manufacturer permits to producing spirits; (c) creates a
new wine, cider, and mead permit with requirements and
abilities substantially similar to a farm winery permittee; and (d)
establishes certain agricultural designations for alcoholic liquor
(§§ 3, 5 & 23);
2. establishes a Connecticut craft cafe permit which allows
manufacturer permittees to, among other things, sell other
Connecticut manufactured alcohol for on-premises consumption
3. allows alcoholic liquor permittees to hold both a manufacturer
permit and a Connecticut craft cafe permit or a restaurant permit
4. consolidates various permits for on-premises consumption and
allows a permittee with a permit that is being consolidated to
continue to hold such permit until it becomes due for renewal or
until a replacement permit becomes available for the permit
holder to obtain (§§ 19, 21, 22, 24 & 27);
5. consolidates the farmers’ market wine sales and beer sales
permits into one farmers’ market sales permit (§§ 15 & 27);
6. allows gift basket retailer permittees to sell gift baskets with beer
(§§ 6 & 7);
7. requires in-state transporter permittees to keep certain records of
deliveries from outside the state into Connecticut (§ 11); and
8. prohibits DCP from adopting regulations requiring effective
separation for restaurants and cafes (§ 25).
The bill also makes minor, conforming, and technical changes in
Researcher: DC Page 3 5/31/19
consolidating the permits (§§ 10-17).
*Senate Amendment “A” changes the underlying bill’s effective
date from January 1, 2020, to various dates (see below) and adds
provisions that (1) increase the amount of beer certain manufacturers
may sell; (2) allow cider manufacturers to sell for on-premises
consumption; (3) increase the times DCP may allow lower quantity
cases; (4) restore the farm winery permit, which the underlying bill
eliminated; (5) require manufacturers to assemble non-uniform cases,
rather than wholesalers as under the underlying bill; (6) require instate transporters to keep certain delivery records; (7) consolidate
various permits, including the farmers’ market permits and various
other permits for on-premises consumption; (8) create a Connecticut
craft cafe permit; (9) allow manufacturer permittees to also hold a
Connecticut craft cafe or restaurant permit; (10) establish certain
agricultural designations for Connecticut alcoholic liquor; (11) prohibit
DCP from requiring effective separation in restaurants and cafes; (12)
create an out-of-state retailer permit for wine; and (13) make various
other minor, technical, and conforming changes.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2020; except the provisions allowing beer
manufacturers to sell more beer for off-premises consumption, cider
manufacturers to sell for on-premises consumption, lower quantity
and non-uniform cases, and coliseum provisions are effective upon
passage; the out-of-state retailers permit provision is effective July 1,
2019; and the excise tax provision is effective January 1, 2020.
§ 1 — ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES TAX
The bill requires beer manufacturer permittees to pay the state
alcoholic beverages tax (i.e., excise tax) on malt beverages (e.g., beer)
they produce and sell for on-premises consumption for amounts over
15 barrels annually. Current law exempts all such beer produced and
sold for on-premises consumption from the tax. By law, a “barrel” is at
least 28 but not more than 31 gallons, and beer is taxed at $7.20 per
barrel (CGS §§ 12-433 & 435).
By law, the alcoholic beverages tax is generally levied on
Researcher: DC Page 4 5/31/19
distributors (i.e., wholesaler or manufacturer permittees) before they
sell their product to retailers or consumers. The distributors must
make monthly reports to the Department of Revenue Services (DRS)
on the total number of gallons of each alcoholic beverage sold during
the month, their opening and closing inventories, and the amount of
tax due (CGS § 12-437).
§ 2 — LOWER QUANTITY CASES
By law, alcoholic liquor, other than beer, cordials, cocktails, wines,
and prepared mixed drinks, must generally be sold and delivered in
cases with statutorily mandated bottle numbers or quantity units. The
bill increases, from four to eight, the maximum number of times DCP
may allow a person or entity to have a lower case bottle number or
quantity in a calendar year.
§ 4 — INCREASED BEER SALES AMOUNT
Until July 1, 2020, the bill increases, from nine liters to nine gallons
(approximately 34 liters or three cases of 16 ounce beers (i.e., 72 cans)),
the amount that permittees with a manufacturer permit for beer, brew
pub, beer and brew pub, and farm brewery may sell, daily per person,
for off-premises consumption. On July 1, 2020, the bill consolidates the
four permits into one, but keeps the same beer sale threshold (see
§ 4 — MANUFACTURER PERMIT FOR CIDER
Until July 1, 2020, the bill allows cider manufacturer permittees to
sell cider and apple wine by the glass and bottle to visitors for onpremises consumption. As is the case under existing law for tastings, a
permittee may sell for on-premises consumption between 10:00 a.m.
and 8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
on Sunday (CGS § 30-16(c)). On July 1, 2020, the bill creates a new
wine, cider, and mead permit that also allows these sales for onpremises consumption (see below).
§§ 3, 5, 16, 17, 18 & 23 — MANUFACTURER PERMIT
CONSOLIDATION AND ADDITIONAL PERMITS FOR ONPREMISES CONSUMPTION
Researcher: DC Page 5 5/31/19
Beginning January 1, 2020, the bill (1) limits manufacturer permits to
producing spirits; (2) consolidates four manufacturer beer permits into
one; (3) creates a new wine, cider, and mead permit with requirements
and abilities substantially similar to a farm winery permittee; (4)
allows manufacturer permittees to hold either a restaurant permit or a
Connecticut craft cafe permit to allow them to sell other types of
alcoholic liquor for on-premises consumption; and (5) allows
manufacturers to apply for certain agricultural designations (e.g.,
Manufacturer Permit for Spirits (§ 5)
The bill limits the current manufacturer permit to just
manufacturing and selling spirits rather than alcoholic liquor (e.g.,
spirits, wine, or beer). It also eliminates the manufacturer permit for a
farm distillery, which, among other things, currently allows
Connecticut farms to manufacture, store, bottle, wholesale distribute,
and sell spirits they produce on their property.
By law, “spirits” means any beverage that contains alcohol obtained
by distillation mixed with drinkable water and other substances in
solution, including brandy, rum, whiskey, and gin.
The bill applies to a manufacturer permit for spirits, all
requirements that currently apply to a manufacturer permit with two
Off-premises Sales. The bill increases the (1) annual gallonage
threshold, from up to 25,000 to up to 50,000 gallons, for which a
permittee may still sell spirits for off-premises consumption and (2)
amount, from 1.5 liters to three liters, per person per day. As under
existing law, the permittee may only sell (1) up to five gallons in any
two-month period and (2) between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on
Sundays and 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Free Samples. The bill allows a spirits manufacturer to offer free
samples of spirits distilled on the premises in combination with a
nonalcoholic beverage as part of the free samples. As under existing
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law, a permittee may provide tastings of up to two ounces per patron
per day between 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Sundays and 10:00 a.m.
and 8:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Consolidation of Beer Permits (§ 5)
The bill consolidates the manufacturer permits for beer, brew pub,
beer and brew pub, and farm brewery into one permit. As under
current law for all the manufacturer permits that produce beer, the
consolidated beer permit allows for the manufacture, storage, and
bottling of beer with DCP’s approval.
Self-Distribution. The consolidated beer permit allows the
permittee to wholesale distribute to other alcoholic liquor permittees,
which except for the brew pub permittee, the other three beer
permittees can do under current law. Under the bill, if the consolidated
beer permittee does wholesale distribute, he or she must make the beer
available to all package store and grocery store permittees in the
geographical region where they distribute, subject to reasonable
limitations, as DCP determines.
On-premises Sales. Under the bill, the consolidated beer permit
allows retail beer sales for on-premises consumption, with or without
selling food. Under current law, the manufacturer permit for beer
cannot sell beer for on-premises consumption, while a farm brewery
can, and the manufacturer permits for brew pub and beer and brew
pub can sell all alcoholic liquor for on-premises consumption, with or
without the sale of food.
Off-premises Sales. Under the bill, the consolidated beer permit
allows retail beer sales for off-premises consumption of up to nine
gallons per person per day. Current law limits all such manufacturer
beer sales to nine liters per person per day.
Production Limits and Requirements. The bill also requires
permittees to annually produce at least 5,000 gallons of beer before
they can sell beer through a wholesaler. Current law only imposes this
minimum gallonage requirement on brew pubs and beer and brew
Researcher: DC Page 7 5/31/19
Under current law, a farm brewery permittee may only annually
produce up to 75,000 gallons of beer and must, among other things,
use a certain minimum percentage of materials grown or malted in the
state for the beer to be advertised and sold as “Connecticut Craft
Beer.” The consolidated beer permit does not have either requirement.
Hours. As under current law for permittees that manufacture beer,
consolidated permittees may sell beer for off-premises consumption
between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Sunday and 8:00 a.m. and 10:00
p.m. Monday through Saturday. Under the bill, a permittee may sell
beer for on-premises consumption between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. the
next morning on Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m.
the next morning for Friday and Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m.
the next morning on Sunday.
Permit Fees. Under the bill, the annual fee for the consolidated
manufacturer permit for beer is $1,400. Under current law, the annual
fee for the manufacturer permit for (1) beer is $1,000; (2) brew pub is
$300; (3) beer and brew pub is $1,500; and (4) farm brewery is $300.
Wine, Cider, and Mead Permit (§§ 3 & 5)
The bill creates a new manufacturer permit for wine, cider, and
mead and eliminates the current cider and apple brandy
manufacturing permits. It allows the new permittee to manufacture
those products in addition to wine and mead.
Allowed Products. The bill allows a wine, cider, and mead
permittee to manufacture wine, cider not exceeding