2nd annual Pacific Northwest Cider Awards: A celebration of creativity and diversity.

The Pacific Northwest Cider Awards (PNWCA) held its second annual cider competition on June 5 and 6 in Seattle. On Friday, June 5, a panel of twenty judges made up primarily of media and cider enthusiasts headed to Seattle Capitol Cider to taste about 145 products in multiple cider categories. Over 35 cideries from the Pacific Northwest participated in the PNWCA. On Saturday, June 6, following the awards, Seattle Cider Company opened its tasting room doors — “The Woods” — to the public and featured 30 ciders from the cideries participating in the PNWCA festival.

The ciders were registered in 14 distinct categories, with gold, silver and bronze medal awarded in almost every category. Each judging panel was made up of 4 or 5 judges who tasted through 2 or 3 categories each. All judges then participated in a second tasting featuring the gold medals of each category to designate the “Best in Show” medal for the 2015 competition. This year’s winner was Wandering Aengus Ciderworks “Bloom,” a cidery based in Salem, Oregon. The complete results of the PNWCA can be found here.

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Implementation of Measure 91: the OLCC is Picking up the Pace

The OLCC announced on May 1st its approach for addressing the implementation of recreational marijuana in Oregon. The OLCC appointed a Rules Advisory Committee (“RAC”) made up of 15 members. The RAC will meet once a month starting June 19, and represents the marijuana industry, local government, law enforcement and the general public.

In addition to the RAC, the OLCC appointed subcommittees to develop draft rules for the different areas related to the regulation of the marijuana industry: Growers, Processors, Extracts, Retail, Advertising/Labeling, Licensing. The subcommittees began meeting the week of June 1. The Growers subcommittee met for the first time on June 1st. The goal of the meeting was to establish an agenda for the next couple of months, addressing issues like: production limits, tracking, licensing, waste disposal, use of natural resources, security and transportation. According to the reaction of the subcommittee, it seems like the main points of discussion will be the establishment of a tracking system, the level of tax to apply, as well as the impact on natural resources (water law, electricity, land use).

The OLCC staff also plan on hosting meetings with other agencies to discuss the impact of recreational marijuana on different areas: land use, banking, energy, and other issues. Continue Reading

Raising water conservation awareness by drinking beer

Clean Water Services (CWS), a water resources management utility in the Tualatin River Watershed, has been creatively exploring a new opportunity for the brewery industry. CWS is taking beneficial reuse of water to a new level by proposing the reuse of recycled water in the brewing process, a proposal first approved by the Oregon Health Authority in September 2014.

The reuse of recycled water in the brewing process has found support in various Oregon organizations: tests showed that the proposed treatment presents very low risk to human health, promotes the importance of conserving water, promotes the need to engage a dialogue about potable reuse, and would help meeting the growing demand for beers. The proposal has the potential to create a new market but raises a few issues.

Health and Sanitary Concerns

The recycled water must be treated to meet or exceed all regulated drinking water contaminant criteria. The analysis regarding the recycled water used to brew small batches of beer revealed that the water was at least as pure and clean as regular water used from municipal resources, and the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission approved the experimentation. A round of public comments on the question was held mid-April 2015. One of the concerns was that wastewater contains “emerging contaminants” that are not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act or the Clean Water Act, and consequently, while the recycled water could meet technical drinking water requirements, it still could pose a threat to human health because some of the contaminants are not addressed in those requirements.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is currently revising CWS’s permit requirements to address these issues and make sure that all risks to human health are eliminated when using recycled water in beer production. Continue Reading

Washington State Liquor Control Board Kicks Off Youth Access Compliance Check Program

Attention Washington state retailers: the Washington State Liquor Control Board is kicking off a youth access compliance check program this month. Here’s a guidance the WSLCB recently issued about the program.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) Enforcement and Education Division’s youth access compliance check program will be beginning in May 2015. The purpose of this letter is to share with you some basics of our compliance check program so that you understand how it works and will be successful in preventing youth access.

Investigative Aides
Our underage compliance checks are conducted using 18-21 year old men and women. These underage people are considered investigative aides (IA), and are employees of the WSLCB. We do not allow IAs to be deceptively mature, and they appear similar to others in their respective age group. The easiest way to pass a compliance check is to check the identification (ID) of anyone appearing youthful. A common regulated industry standard is to check the ID of anyone appear 30 years of age or younger.

If you ask for ID, the investigative aide will either tell you he/she does not have ID with them, or will present their true state issued ID. This will show the store employee the IA is under the legal age to frequent your business, or purchase marijuana. It is very important to check and verify ID. If you ask our IAs how old they are, he/she will respond they are 21 years old. Simply asking for someone’s age is not ensuring compliance, so ID must be checked to verify legal age.

Checking Identification
The best practice for youth access compliance is to always ask for ID, and have the customer take the ID out of the wallet and hand it to you. Next, inspect and verify the picture to ensure the ID belongs to the person presenting it for proof of age. Keep in mind it is common for vertical format ID to be issued to a cardholder before they turn 21 years of age. Any vertical format ID should be closely scrutinized. Also, be sure the ID is not expired, as expired IDs are not valid for proof of age. Last, be sure the ID is one of the acceptable forms of ID. Please visit www.lcb.wa.gov for additional information on acceptable ID.

Be sure to check ID at the point of sale, even if someone is checking ID upon entry into the business. Multiple people checking ID at different locations (ex: main entrance and counter) increases success rates for compliance. If the counter clerk relies on the door person to check ID, and an illegal sale occurs, both employees are liable for the violation. The door person could be charged with allowing a minor to frequent, and the employee who made the sale could be changed with furnishing marijuana to the minor, which is classified as a felony criminal offense. Remember that ultimately the licensee is responsible for the acts of their employees, and administrative penalties can also be assessed for non-compliance.

Youth access compliance in retail marijuana stores cannot be successful without your active interest in safe and responsible business practices. Please reach out to your area officer with any questions about checking IDs, acceptable forms of ID, or any general compliance related questions.

Hidden Land Use Issues with Urban Winery Properties

The interest in urban wineries is on the rise, with companies looking to take advantage of close proximity to customers, empty warehouse and industrial space, and access to city water and sewer.  However, hidden land use issues can present significant problems when pursuing this type of urban property, particularly within the City of Portland (City).

“Grandfathered” Uses

With the changing urban landscape (in-fill development, urban renewal areas, etc.), many older warehouses and industrial spaces are located in zones that now restrict commercial and industrial activities.  This means that although an industrial activity may have historically occupied the building, a new or changed industrial use may be prohibited or restricted under the City’s current land use regulations.  Even if the building is marketed as a “grandfathered” industrial space, that does not mean it has been approved as a legal nonconforming use or situation under the City’s code.  It is important to know whether the City has already issued a legal nonconforming determination for the industrial activities and, if not, to consider whether such a determination can be obtained prior to acquiring the property.  The City’s website provides a good explanation of the process and the review requirementsContinue Reading

Guest Post: Why Restaurant Chains Are Issuing new Food Menu

We published a post on our sister Food Liability Law blog that has application to AB blog readers also. In the post, we review why popular chain restaurants have started publishing new menus with calorie and other nutrition information. The answer is to be found in the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration’s new Menu Labeling Rule.

Click here to read our post.

“Organic” Labeling of Marijuana is Not Permitted

Many sellers of marijuana and marijuana-infused products are using the term “organic” on their labels. They may be unaware that the use of “organic” is strictly regulated by the USDA and the states. It simply isn’t permitted on marijuana products.

Essentially, “organic” is not permitted on a label unless (a) the product is certified by an independent body per USDA requirements, or (b) the grower’s or processor’s revenues are less than $5,000 per year. For processed foods, the processor must have an organic certificate from USDA. The product can then bear organic labeling only if it is comprised mostly of certified organic ingredients. Any non-organic ingredients in the product must be on an “approved” USDA list. Unsurprisingly, USDA organic certification standards don’t exist for marijuana, and it’s not on the “approved non-organics” list either.

It’s clear that the use of the term “organic” is not currently permitted for marijuana flower or for foods containing marijuana or its constituents in any form. In addition, Washington’s I-502 regulations say marijuana products may not be labeled as organic unless they comply with the USDA organic program. Which they can’t do, for now.

Labeling compliance challenges are rampant in the marijuana marketplace. This is one of easy ones.

Thanks to Chris Van Hook, Esq. of Clean Green Certified  for his help on this post.

Fox Business Network Profiles Winery Owner Pascal Brooks in “Strange Inheritance” Episode

Congratulations to Pascal Brooks and Janie Heuck for their tremendous success growing Brooks Winery and keeping alive the memory of Pascal’s father and Janie’s brother Jimi.  We join them in looking forward to viewing Strange Inheritance With Jamie Colby that tells the amazing story of their journey to preserve the winery for Pascal, which was his late father’s wish. The show is scheduled to air on Fox Business Network on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. More details at www.strangeinheritance.com.

Five Important Trademark Lessons the Beverages Trade Learned in 2014

The folks at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“PTO”) received nearly half a million trademark applications last year. These applications included thousands of new filings by breweries, vineyards, wineries, and distilleries. Here are five important lessons we learned from last year’s decisions by various trademark tribunals about protecting and registering your mark in the beer, wine or spirits industries. Continue Reading

Despite What You May Think, “IPA” Really Could Have Been a Trademark for Beer

Can one brewery sue another to stop them from using a stylized version of “IPA,” a familiar acronym for the popular style of beer known as India Pale Ale?  As you may have heard, the Lagunitas Brewing Co. just tried  . . . and it didn’t go so well.  But things could have worked out very differently if Lagunitas had raised its claims back in 1995, a time when Lagunitas says it was the only one using “IPA” to market an India Pale Ale.

On Monday, The Lagunitas Brewing Co. filed suit against fellow California craft brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. for trademark infringement in an attempt to prevent Sierra Nevada from rolling out a new label for Sierra Nevada’s “Hop Hunter IPA”.  Lagunitas claimed Sierra Nevada’s label depicted “IPA” in a style that was too similar to the way “IPA” appears on the label of Lagunitas’ flagship “Lagunitas IPA”.


Sierra Nevada’s design, Lagunitas argued, “uses all capital, large, bold, black ‘IPA’ lettering in a font selection that is remarkably similar to the Lagunitas design” and was likely to create confusion among consumers as to the origin of Sierra Nevada’s product.

By Wednesday, Lagunitas had dropped the case, citing the overwhelming public uproar over its claims:  “Today was in the hands of the ultimate court; The Court of Public Opinion and in it we got an answer to our Question; Our flagship IPA’s registered federal trademark has limits. Continue Reading