The back pedaling started on Tuesday when the Operations Director of the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery announced that under an updated enforcement policy bars, pubs and tasting rooms could begin displaying ABVs (alcohol by volume) in menus and on signage at the bar or in the tasting room. The information is allowed to be displayed as long as it’s not embellished. Basically the information can be displayed as it always was as basic information about the product for sale.
The changes come after a flurry of media attention locally and out of state, this move appears to be an attempt to save face that comes too late, even after making the changes to their enforcement policy the damage is done. This attempt to conceal information from the public has cast another bad shadow on the Maine beer scene and their “fix” for the situation is comical at best. Simply not enforcing the ABV rule that shouldn’t have been enforced to begin with is a patch and does not solve anything, the actual law it stems from is still open to interpretation and left alone could become a problem again in the future.
Representative Louis Luchini of Ellsworth has submitted emergency legislation to remedy the problem. LD-1763, “An act to make available to the public certain information concerning the alcohol content of malt liquor, wine and spirits” has been referred to the Committee of Veterans and Legal Affairs.
I am a supporter of Maine beer, I live and work in this state, I’m raising a family here, I drink the beer and occasionally I write about. I would love to see the State of Maine, a state with a storied past with alcohol, turn a corner. I would like to see us gain a reputation as a state that’s forward thinking and openly supports our growing craft beer industry. We have some truly talented brewers in this state, brewers who are producing a quality product that drives demand in and out of the state, but our out of date liquor laws and unpredictable enforcement of those laws isn’t helping anyone.
I strongly urge anyone who reads this, whether you are a beer drinker or not, to contact your local representative or contact the Committee of Veterans and Legal Affairs and voice your support for LD-1763. The public has the right to know what’s in the products they are purchasing for consumption.
Let’s be progressive, not prohibitionist.