City of Presidents American Pale Ale available exclusively at Quincy Center bars, restaurants

A complex, easy-drinking all-American craft beer
from Widowmaker Brewing

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City of Presidents American Pale Ale is scheduled to arrive at Quincy Center bars and restaurants on Friday, August 17, the first and only craft beer brewed exclusively for distribution in Historic Quincy. 

             The deliciously flavorful, complex but easy-drinking pale ale was crafted by Widowmaker Brewingof Wood Road in Braintree, steps from the Quincy line. 

            “This beer celebrates the history of a great American city and pays homage to downtown Quincy’s rapid rise as one of the region’s most dynamic new dining destinations,” said head brewer Ryan Lavery of Widowmaker Brewing, a former longtime Quincy resident. “Quincy businesses and residents have supported our brand in great numbers and we’re excited to provide this exclusive offering.” 

            The beer is being released at a time when Quincy Center is enjoying a construction boom and is about to welcome a second wave of new eateries on the heels of last year’s arrival of 10 new dining destinations.  

Pending newcomers include Idle Hour, a cocktail-centric neighborhood bar featuring dishes from celebrated former Drink chef de cuisine Ashley Gaboriault; Rewild Plant Food + Drink, touted as America’s first plant-based beer hall and café; and Belfry, a new urban beer hall from the team behind critically acclaimed Quincy Center cocktail boite The Townshend. 

            The City of Quincy is also about to celebrate the opening of its world-class new downtown green space, the Hancock-Adams Common, in a Sept. 8 ceremony featuring local dignitaries, Mayor Tom Koch, Governor Charlie Baker and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and John Adams biographer David McCullough. This public park, boasting green space, fountains and monumental statuary of Quincy natives and Founding Fathers John Hancock and John Adams, promises to be the centerpiece of the new and improved Quincy Center. 

            In the spirit of Quincy’s historic past and bright future, City of Presidents American Pale Ale is a brewed with 100 percent all-American ingredients, including domestic malts and a blend of classic and nouveau American hops: Amarillo, Cascade and Citra. 

            It’s a cloudy hop-forward pale ale in the popular “New England style” of craft beer, but one that features a brilliant lemonade-yellow hue from the use of lightly toasted American malts. The sunny color symbolizes the dawn of a new day for Quincy Center. The beer’s soft texture and mouthfeel come from its use of American flaked oats. 

            City of Presidents American Pale Ale tastes great on its own or paired with favorite summertime dishes. 

The beer is available in 16-ounce cans with a label that features the facade of Quincy landmark Church of the Presidents, plus modernized images of Quincy’s favorite sons chilling out with sunglasses drinking this cool new brew: President John Adams, President John Quincy Adams and President of the Second Continental Congress John Hancock. 

The label was designed by Quincy artist Jacob Callaway of Verified Beer Traders. 

The first run of City of Presidents American Pale Ale will be available exclusively at Quincy Center bars and restaurants, including 16C, Alba, Angelo’s Coal Fired Pizza, Cagney’s, Fat Cat, The Fours, Fowler House, Fuji at WOC, Idle Hour, Malachy’s, Paddy Barry’s, The Pour Yard, Rozafa, S6, Shaking Crab, The Townshend and Zef Cicchetti & Raw Bar.  

Sap on Tap: Father and Son Duo Use Black Birch Sap As Key Ingredient in Noble Birch Beer

Offered at Rapscallion Brewery and
Restaurants Table & Tap and Kitchen & Bar

 Randy Noble taps a black birch tree.

Randy Noble taps a black birch tree.

Sturbridge, Mass. | Just as the maple syrup season comes to a close in early April, another underutilized and often overlooked tree begins its tapping season, the black birch tree. 

The black birch does not stand out in the woods like its more well-known sister, the white birch, but upon close examination of the bark one would easily recognize the same notches and tick marks ingrained on the tree. Need another telltale sign? Snap off a twig, bring it to your nose and breathe in its wintergreen aroma. 

It’s this subtly-sweet extract from the tree that makes the “Noble Birch” beer, now available on tap at Rapscallion brewery and its restaurants, so unique. 

This labor of love is a collaboration brewed by father and son duo, Randy and Jonas Noble. 

 Black birch twigs used for steeping. 

Black birch twigs used for steeping. 

Randy, 63, an avid outdoorsman, hunter and longtime home-cidermaker, stumbled upon the recipe for a beer made out of black birch sap in an outdoor adventure guide. His son, Jonas, 35, the head brewer at Rapscallion Brewery, toyed with the recipe to make it more pliable for commercial brewing. 

No water is used in the production of this beer. Instead,  approximately 150 gallons of black birch sap is tapped and extracted from the trees on the brewery property by Randy, and chilled in large steel gallon drums. It takes about a week to collect this amount. The black birch sap flows quickly from the tree and is more fluid compared to maple sap.

Then, Jonas has a short amount of time to start the brewing process before the sap begins to perish and turn bitter. The liquid is infused with local honey and malt, and steeped with twigs from the same tree during the boiling process to increase its wintergreen nose and aroma. The beer pours clear and is completely hop free. 

“Noble Birch has a distinct quality to it -- I really kick up the carbonation so it drinks more like a refreshing soda,” says Jonas.

The beer is meant to be sipped due to its high alcohol content ranging from 9 to 12% ABV. The 2018 batch comes in around 10.5% and is served in a small goblet to keep consumers on their feet. 

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This is the fifth year that Noble Birch has been brewed at Rapscallion Brewery and it has quite a following among its longtime customer base. The beer, which is served only on tap, typically sells out quickly due to the small quantity that the brewery can produce.  

“It’s not a beer that you’ll soon forget,” says Jonas. “Many like it as an aperitif or digestif, and we plan to work with our chef to experiment pairing it with some of our new desserts or even making some beer cocktails with it. It’s unlike any seasonal beer you’ll try.” 

Rapscallion plans to hold two releases of the Noble Birch, this summer and again in the winter of 2019. For more information, visit drinkrapscallion.com  

Want to try it? Get out there: 

Brewery & Tap Room
195 Arnold Road, Sturbridge, MA

Table & Tap
5 Strawberry Hill Road, Acton, MA

Kitchen & Bar
208 Fitchburg Turnpike, Concord, MA

 

Beer Excise, Sales, and Meals Tax 101

An overview of beer excise, sales, and meals tax in the state of MA for brewers and their breweries. 

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For anyone who has tried to wrap their heads around the taxation of beer in MA, it can be a challenge. A Google search will bring you to various blogs that contradict each other, state websites that are difficult or impossible to navigate, and tax forms that are vague and make no sense. After helping a few of you navigate the nuances of tax compliance on beer, I would like to share with the MA Brewers Guild and you, some of the basics when it comes to beer excise, sales, and meals taxes. 

While each of these topics are worthy of their own blog post, this summary should provide enough guidance to help you get up and running and stay compliant on some of the most fundamental transactions that breweries encounter. For more complex matters, don’t hesitate to contact me. With that said, let’s start mashingout these nuances into something clear to understand!  

Part 1: Beer Excise Tax
First, we are going to start with beer excise tax and the required MA Form AB-1. Every brewery, wholesaler, and importer of beer in MA is liable for and to pay, an excise tax for the privilege of manufacturing or importing beer into the state for sale. With that said, when you manufacture your beer or import your beer (as a wholesaler), that beer becomes subject to the excise tax of $3.30 per BBL (31 gallons) in MA. MA excise tax is reported to the state on Form AB-1 which is due on or before the 20thday of the month following the month of production. Simple right? But when is my beer considered taxable beer and does it follow TTB requirements? What if I use a contract brewery? What about beer shipped out of state? Here are some compliance tips when it comes to beer excise tax and filing form AB-1:

When is my beer taxable in MA? Can I follow the TTB? 
Unofficially, sure, you can follow TTB rules to determine when your beer becomes taxable in MA as for most, the conversion cycle between production and sale is pretty quick. Officially, unlike the TTB with a designated tax-free zone, when your beer is packaged (bottled, canned, kegged, etc.) it becomes taxable in MA. Notice I said “packaged” and not pushed into a bright tank. Usually we recommend brewers take the position that beer manufacturing is complete when packaged.  This is because when you go from a bright tank to packaging you can have some loss in total BBLs or bad packaging runs that make beer unsellable and therefore non-taxable. If you are going from the tank to tap, make sure you have a clearly marked tax determined tank and log the beer added as that becomes your taxable beer. 

To report tax determined beer, your will utilize Schedule A: Malt Beverages Imported, Purchased or Otherwise Acquired- Form AB-1. But wait, why use this form if it doesn’t say “Manufactured”? That is because the government is behind and has not updated the form! So, what do you do? Here are some best practices, for manufacturers of beer (breweries):

  • Date Received should be the date packaged;
  • invoice number can be an internal batch number or production run number; 
  • from whom imported or otherwise acquired can be either “manufactured internally” or the name of the beer packaged; 
  • number of barrels or cases is total barrels produced;
  • and fill in Box A under no tax paid the total gallons of beer produced. This amount will then be reported on page 1, line 1 Malt Beverages. 

The total gallons is then multiplied by $3.30 to determine your excise tax liability. 

What if I contract the production of my beer to another brewery?
When another brewery manufactures your beer and you purchase that beer from them for resale, you are a wholesaler. As mentioned above, MA requires wholesalers to file Form AB-1. You will still utilize Schedule A, however; you now have an actual invoice number, date received, and name of who produced the beer to fill in. But, the biggest difference is, when reporting gallons upon which tax was paid. 

When you acquire the beer from a manufacturer who is physically located in MA, the manufacturer is responsible for reporting and paying the excise tax beer. Therefore, the total gallons you acquired gets listed under box B of schedule A, Gallons upon which Mass. Tax paid. Here you are simply reporting to the state beer acquired and will have no excise tax liability. If you have made the mistake of paying the excise tax, not a problem. You can simply amend your Form AB-1’s to recover the tax. 

If you are utilizing out of state breweries and then shipping the beer into MA, you as the wholesaler, will be responsible for the payment of excise tax on beer brought into the state. In addition, you will also need to fill out and file Form AB-10, Report of Alcoholic Beverages Shipped into Massachusetts.

Lastly, the above discusses the rules when you are “Contract Brewing”. This is a relationship in which you pay a brewer, the “contract brewer”, to produce your beer. There is another relationship, though used infrequently, called Alternating Proprietorships. Under this arrangement, you and another brewer may take turns in using the physical premise of a licensed brewery, the host brewer, to brew your beer. In this type of relationship, the host brewer is not responsible for paying the excise tax and you will need to file your own form AB-1 and pay the required tax. 

Is beer shipped out of state subject to MA excise taxes? 
No. Beer shipped out of state is exempt from MA excise tax. You report sales out of state on Schedule F, Deductions. Also reported on Schedule F is beer disposed of at the brewery or loss on inventory due to breakage. 

Is beer sold for onsite consumption exempt from MA excise taxes?
Sales of beer for onsite consumption is considered a “meal” and as therefore separately taxed. You are responsible for paying the excise tax on beer produced and for collecting and remitting to the state sales tax on beer sold in your tap room. Still don’t believe me, check out MA DOR Letter Ruling 96-2: Sales of Malt Beverages by Restaurant Brewery (don’t let the word restaurant fool you as it applies to taverns, bars, and taprooms). Here is the link to the letter ruling:

http://archives.lib.state.ma.us/bitstream/handle/2452/54090/ocm09310387-1996-2.pdf?sequence=1  

Part 2: Sales and Meals Tax
Next, we will chat about sales and meals tax. Breweries report sales tax on Form ST-9 and meals tax on Form ST-MAB-4 (note meals, as stated earlier, includes sale of alcoholic beverages).  These forms are both due monthly, on or before the 20thday following the month you are reporting for.  Some common questions we see are as follows:

 

What are the tax rates for sales and meals tax? 
In MA, transactions subject to sales tax are assessed at a rate of 6.25%. Meals are also assessed at 6.25% but watch out! Some jurisdictions in MA elected to assess a local tax on meals of .75% bringing the meals tax rate to 7%. Be sure to check if your location is subject to the local tax. 

What transactions are subject to sales tax?
Let’s look at this transaction from two points of views. 

The first point of view is that of the consumer who purchases swag from your brewery. Generally articles of clothing are exempt from sales tax. Glassware and other swag items like stickers or bottle openers are subject to sales tax. Also, sales of prepackaged beer for offsite consumption are exempt. For transactions that are subject to sales tax, the brewery is to collect from the buyer the 6.25% on the sales price of items subject to sales tax and remit that money to the MA DOR. 

Growlers are tricky. Prefilled growlers that are already sealed, and in a cooler that a consumer can take from are exempt. When a consumer comes in with an empty growler and you fill it, that transaction is subject to sales tax. 

From the point of view of the brewery, items purchased for resale are exempt from sales tax because you are buying them as a reseller. But be careful, if you take stickers or glassware for example, to give away at an event, you are subject to self-charging yourself sales tax. The biggest thing I want to draw attention to for the brewery is this; purchase of equipment, materials, or supplies used to manufacture your beer or directly used in the conversion process to convert raw materials into a finished sellable product are exempt from sales tax. Most vendors a brewery deals with are pretty good about exempting certain items purchased, but some smaller vendors may not and you specifically need to ask for the exemption or provide them with a completed form ST-12, Exempt Use Certificate. This means you are certifying to the vendor that the purchase is exempt from sales tax. 

Just recently, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on the Wayfair Online Sales Tax Case. This can create a requirement to collect sales tax on sales of swag from your website shipped out of state. To see if this will impact you and your online sales, reach out to your tax advisor. 

What transactions are subject to meals tax?
Sale of beer, food, and snacks for onsite consumption are subject to meals tax. Now one thing I notice is a lot of breweries that sell beer in their taproom include sales tax in the price of the beer. Meaning they do not show the tax as a separate line item on your receipt. That is perfectly fine but keep in mind these two things: first, this is only allowed if the sole transaction on the receipt is sale of beer. If the receipt includes sale of beer, merchandise, or snacks, sales tax needs to be separately shown. Second, make sure you assess your selling price to determine if it is including or not including taxes. For example, if you sell a beer for $9 and assuming a 6.25% tax rate, are you just using $9 and therefore your revenue per sale is actually $8.44 or does the $9 not include sales tax so the end sale to the consumer is $9.56 and your revenue per sale is $9. I know this seems silly but if not accounted for correctly you could be leaving money on the table as you are supposed to be collecting from the consumer and remitting back to the state. Further from an analysis stand point, you can be overstating revenues. While the push back is there is an offsetting expense so my bottom line is not impacted, in the beer world it’s all about revenue per BBL or case equivalent and the tax included in revenue is not your revenue, it is the state’s revenue. For some with high tap room volume, this can be a material number.

Part 3: Bottle Deposits
Now the last item to talk about are bottle deposits. This is the most annoying thing out there for a nickel, but it is for a good cause, I guess….While this may not be a large number for most, it is still required in MA and you need to be compliant on all fronts to be in good standing with the state. 

When it comes to bottle deposits here is what you need to know. First, bottles and cans sold to a wholesaler do not need to be assessed for bottle deposits. Cans transferred from the brewery to the taproom or retail area for offsite consumption are assessed a nickel. Second, to report the receipt of deposits or refunds of deposits, you use MA Form AD-1,Abandoned Deposit Amounts Return. This form is due no later than ten days after the last day of each month. Third and last, do you need a separate bank account for this? Yes and I know it’s a pain…MA requires every bottler and distributor to establish and maintain a bank account known as a Deposit Transaction Fund and form AD-1 is your reconciliation of that account which is provided to the state. 

Wrap-up         
I hope you have found this post helpful and insightful as to what type of common transactions in the brewery will subject you to sales, meals, and beer excise tax. I encourage you all to take a moment and review internally your PoS systems and form AB-1s and reach out to your advisor if you think something feels or does not look right. 

If you want to chat through anything or discuss any of the items above in more details please don’t hesitate to reach out! 

Cheers,
Bob Babine
Edelstein & Company
Rbabine@edelsteincpa.com      

The Mass Fermentational Returns to the Worcester Common

Fundraiser and Beer Festival Hosted by the Mass Brewers Guild
Saturday, Oct. 6 -- 1 to 5 p.m. 

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Raise a pint and funds for the Mass Brewers Guild during the Mass Fermentational, the organization’s second largest beer festival and fundraiser of the year, set to return to the Worcester Common on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 1 to 5 p.m. 

The Mass Brewers Guild is the state’s trade association that exists to protect and promote the interests of craft breweries across the Commonwealth. Funds raised through this beer fest will help to power the state’s mobile beer trail map, create educational and marketing programs for local breweries, and support the organization’s government affairs work. 

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The event expects to draw 1,500 patrons to the green located at 455 Main St. in Worcester, MA and hopes to raise $25,000 for the nonprofit. 

Fifty seven local breweries – from fan favorites, to local legends and newly opened sud houses -- will pour alongside a few hand-picked special guest out-of-state breweries. Once inside the park, attendees can drink-in all that the Massachusetts craft beer scene has to offer. 

“We are grateful to be welcomed back by the City of Worcester to host our fall beer festival,” says Katie Stinchon, executive director of the Mass Brewers Guild. “The beautiful park and city backdrop was a great atmosphere for our attendees and brewers last year, and we are thrilled to return. We look forward to another successful event and have some great breweries in the lineup for our craft beer fans.” 

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Tickets are $45 for general admission and includes unlimited two-ounce beer samples from participating breweries. Non-drinkers who wish to enjoy the atmosphere and an afternoon with friends can purchase a Designated Driver Ticket for $10. Once inside the festival, patrons can purchase gourmet eats served up by several food trucks onsite.

Mass Brewers Guild events are organized by craft brewers for craft brewers. Breweries employ locals, drive traffic and tourism to the Commonwealth and pour world-class craft beer to thirsty locals and travelers. To date there are more than 160 craft breweries in Massachusetts. 

The Mass Fermentational is a 21+ event, no exceptions. Identification required at the door. No dogs allowed with the exception of certified service animals. To purchase tickets, visit massferm.eventbrite.com.

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Utility Service Interruption Insurance: What Craft Brewers Need to Know

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Business insurance is a complex animal. The list of potential risks is long and fairly nuanced, depending on the type of business at hand. Without an industry expert in your corner, it can be easy to overlook certain “what-if?” scenarios that aren’t expressly covered by your business owner’s policy. Having the right agent on your team, to anticipate and explain hidden gaps, is essential.

In the world of microbreweries, utility service interruptionis a perfect case in point. Utility service interruption is a specific type of loss event—an event not typically covered by standard commercial property terms, nor equipment coverage (a.k.a. “inland marine”), nor basic business interruption, despite its similar-sounding name. Meanwhile, utility service interruption is a very real and very costly exposure.

So here’s what you need to know:

What is utility service interruption insurance?

Also known as “off-premises power coverage,” utility service interruption (USI) is an endorsement that can beaddedto basic business interruption and/or commercial property coverage. USI typically covers disruptions to the following: 

·       Your Water Supply (pumping stations, water mains, sewer mains)

·       Your Power Supply (utility generating plants, switching stations, substations)

·       Your Communications Supply (optic fiber transmission lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relays, overhead transmission lines)

USI endorsements vary widely, in terms of which utility services are included, whether both “Direct Damage” and “Time Element” losses are covered, whether transmission lines are covered, and other variables. Your brewery insuranceteam should help you define which elements within these categories are covered on your policy.

What’s the difference between Direct Damage and Time Element Losses?

There are two ways to extend your basic insurance program by adding USI coverage: a direct damage endorsement and/or a time element losses endorsement. 

A Direct Damage endorsement acts as an extension of your propertyinsurance, offering protection against damage to tangible property, resulting from a utility interruption. So if, for example, a power line down the street is struck by lightning, and a surging electrical current flows back into your building, the burst can overwhelm your surge protectors—damaging your computers, appliances, breakers, switches and receptacles. A Direct Damage endorsement would kick in to cover any new wiring needed or equipment replacement.

Time Element Losses, on the other hand, are associated with stalled operations and lost income. After a utility disruption, lacking electricity or water would likely prevent you from opening your doors—costing you money.  Similarly, if a prolonged power outage affected your ability to control fermentation temperatures, you might lose valuable batches of beer: more lost income. A USI Time Element endorsement would extend your business interruption coverage to help you recoup these losses, up to a predetermined time limit or until utility service was restored.

But I already have business interruption coverage? Isn’t this the same thing?

Not necessarily. Basic business interruption insurance covers your costs if an unexpected event (e.g. a fire or a flood) damages your propertyand forces you to close shop for a short time. In some cases, basic business interruption may also cover certain types of utility disruptions while excluding other types; overhead transmission lines are a prime example. Be sure to ask your agent which utility disruptions, if any, are included in your current BI policy. 

How common are utility service interruption events?

In the past 10 years we’ve all been affected by at least one severe weather event. Following the October snowstorm of 2011, thousands of New England customers lost power—many for more than a week. Hurricane Sandy caused nearly 400,000 power outages in Massachusetts alone, dragging out over a five-day span. 

Lightning is another common concern. According to electro-mechanical consultants, direct and indirect lightning strikes happen every day, causing a variety of business interruptions. “…All business machines and various equipment types can be electrically shorted and mechanical components become fused, resulting in premature failure, if not instant total loss. Water pumps, blower motors, alarm systems and machinery can be compromised.  Building plumbing, HVAC air handlers, heaters and wiring can have extensive damage affecting the operation and control.” In fact, in 2015, nine percent of all reported claims involving HVAC systemswere caused by lightning strikes. 

What does utility service interruption insurance cost?

Costs and ideal coverage limits vary, depending on your operation. The cost may also be a function of your carrier’s property rating algorithm. To provide a ballpark figure, our craft brewery insurance team was able to add $25,000 in utility service coverage—including overhead transmission lines—for a mid-sized brewery/tap room, for less than $200 per year. Well worth it, when you consider the cost of new equipment or multiple days of downtime.

What do I need to ask my agent about USI coverage?

We recommend having a conversation with your brewery insurance agent as soon as possible—especially now that we’re officially into hurricane season. He or she can explain the conditions under which your insurance company offers USI coverage, as well as advise you on what makes sense for your microbrewery. Talking points should include:

  • The types of utility power or service to be listed on your policy
  • The specific waiting period (often 24 or 48 hours) that must elapse before coverage is triggered. (Instead of a flat deductible, there is typically a waiting period for coverage to kick-in.  Because of this, you will want to consider how much your business could absorb before you would need to be reimbursed, factoring in peak and low periods of business.)
  • Whether or not your USI coverage applies to contingent third-party locations (suppliers and receivers)

    In addition to utility service interruption, there are many other niche coverages and endorsements that craft brewers should at least consider adding to their policies. If you’re not sure what your current program covers (and what it doesn’t), please don’t hesitate to contact our knowledgeable brewery insurance team.

In addition to being a craft brewery insurance expert, Ben Cavallo is the owner and principal of C&S Insurance, a proud member of the Mass Brewers Guild. He holds degrees from Emory University and Boston College, as well as CIC, AAI, and CISR insurance designations. He can be reached at 508.339.2951 or ben@candsins.com.

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Trademarks

By: Julie K. O'Neil

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Brewers can protect the uniqueness of their brands of brew and brewery names by filing for federal registration of their trademarks. Here are a few things about the process that are good to know:

  • There are 45 different classes of goods and services, and how you file to protect your trademark is an important decision. Is your mark simply the name of a beer? Is it also the name of your brew pub? If so, consider filing in the classes covering both beer and restaurant/bar services. The more classes you file in, the more filing fees; but also the greater protection you will have.
     
  • Don’t file for registration of a mark with a particular description of goods or services unless you know that at some point within the next three years you will be able to file an appropriate “specimen” of use. For goods, a specimen is often simply a photograph of the packaged goods bearing the trademark. For services, often pages from the applicant’s website promoting the services and showing the servicemark comprise the specimens of use. If you have filed for a stylized mark or logo (meaning, not just a plain typed word or phrase), note that the mark must look exactly the same on your specimen of use as it looks in the “drawing” of the mark. Otherwise the specimen will be rejected.
     
  • Do you need to claim color? With respect to stylized words and logos, you will need to decide prior to making the filing if you want to file for protection in black and white, or claim protection as to the specific colors in the mark, or both. If the colors included in the trademark are the most important and recognizable part of the mark, you may want to claim color. But note that if you change your colors later, the mark with the new colors will not have the same protection. Because of this, for stylized marks, it is best to file two applications, once claiming color, and one not.
  • If your trademark includes a geographical indicator, your application may be rejected. The US trademark office will not register a trademark on the Principal Register if the trademark is “primarily geographically descriptive” of the goods or services.
     
  • There are two federal trademark “registers” – Principal and Supplemental. If your application is rejected from the Principal Register (which could be because it is “merely descriptive” (for example, “Only Good Beer”), “laudatory” (for example, “Super Awesome Beer”) or for other reasons), you may be able to move it to the Supplemental Register, which provides less protection. However, after 5 years of continuous use, you can try to move the registration to the Principal Register by proving that the mark has become “distinctive.”
     
  • Is it ever better to not apply to register your mark? Yes. Sometimes it is better not to draw attention to your use of a trademark by filing a public application to register it at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). If your mark could potentially be considered as infringing on another mark, and the owner of that other mark has deep pockets, you may want to lie low. Owners of registered marks that are financially strong usually monitor trademark filings for potential infringers, and they can bring opposition or cancellation proceedings resulting in your having to cease the use of your mark altogether.

Pick unique names for your brewery and your brews, and make sure you protect them properly! Now that is a strategy that will bring you good cheer!

Julie O’Neill focuses her practice on business, corporate and securities law, and counseling individuals and entities at all stages of the corporate life cycle on a wide variety of sophisticated transactions in the U.S., Canada, and abroad.

Farm to Glass - A Wet Hopped Beer Story

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By: Liz L’Etoile, Four Star Farms

As our hop plants start reaching the top of the trellis my mind turns to my favorite time of year, wet hopped beer season! And no, not because wet hops are “easier” for our farm to sell, I get that joke all the time. It’s the draw of harmonious layers of subtle, yet complex hop character that can only be found in fresh hopped brews at harvest time, shining in a world of intensely hop forward beers, if only for a brief period of time.

 

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Under the best drying conditions hops lose many of their volatile oils that contribute to flavor and aroma, so with fresh hops, you’re starting from a place of “more.”  Because the hops are still “wet” the effect is understated but ever-present; a brew that is multidimensional, with notes of grass, herbs and flowers mingling with the traditional hop characteristics you’ve grown to know and love.

Historically, wet hopped beers were only made by those breweries that were either lucky enough to be proximate to hop farms or had the resources to fly in wet hops overnight. However, as more regions of the country start growing hops, access to fresh hops is changing - opening the door for more breweries (from the smallest to the largest) to make these seasonal gems. We’ve proudly watched the number of these brews across New England grow over the last several years.

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At the farm, we’re currently accepting pre-orders for this season’s wet hops. Our harvest will run from late August to mid September and each variety will be picked, one at a time, across that window. Centennial and Magnum always vie to be the first one’s harvested, Rakau is always last (typically ready after the first week in September), while Cascade, Pépite, Mt. Rainier, Chaos and Crystal hang tight in the middle. Adventurous brewers are welcome to pick up their orders and take full advantage of the view, photo op and story only a hop farm can provide. For those that can’t make it to the farm we can ship right to your door. Wondering how to procure some for your brew? It’s as easy as calling or emailing me.

There’s a natural symbiosis between many brewers and farmers and this style of brewing showcases that relationship, highlighting the best of what the growing season has to offer, the talents of the brewer and giving a unique nod to time and place. These brews are special, they’re delicious, they’re fleeting, and I’m thankful there are more of them available locally every September.  

Liz@FourStarFarms.com    
(413) 498-2968

Owning a Brewery: “Taxes, Bookkeeping and H.R., Oh My!”

By: Steve Treglia, CPA

The past few years have seen a renaissance in the beer industry, with numerous new local breweries opening throughout the state and region, offering spaces for people to gather, socialize and enjoy the breweries popping up around them. It has become a brand new industry for the area, as these businesses no doubt do more than their fair share to contribute to the local economy.

Brewing great beer, however, has to be considered the easy part when it comes to opening and operating a brewery, and it’s certainly the more enjoyable part. Because with it comes the accounting and bookkeeping, the tax laws, the human resources duties and other administrative work—this is work no one generally wants to do but, unfortunately, has to be done. And not only can it be time consuming and confusing, no matter the brewery’s size, it can also require additional manpower which, inevitably, means additional spending.

From a tax perspective, breweries need to consider:

·      There are certain tax credits available that many small businesses and breweries are unaware of and therefore go unutilized, including the tax benefits related to fixed assets and startup costs.

·      Many startup companies may be in a loss position for the first year or two due to initial startup costs—and with new tax provisions, these losses can be handled differently, depending on the size of the business. 

·      Given that many small business owners may own other companies or portions of other companies, those different ownerships under the new tax law can have varying implications and need to be considered from a personal tax standpoint. 

From a bookkeeping perspective, the most common issues and traps for breweries, as well as any small businesses, are as follows: 

·      These are time consuming burdens on owners that can take away from what’s most important

·      Hiring bookkeeping personnel, even part-time, may be costly if benefits and other pay is involved and may not be necessary when there are other cheaper third-party solutions

·      Hiring a quick fix bookkeeper that isn’t qualified for the future growth of the business 

·      Determining which software is best for the company, based on its size and its future plans

Finally there is the human resources perspective; many breweries struggle in this area and with the administrative side of things as they begin to grow and need the following:

·      Creating hiring and firing policies to protect the company from lawsuits

·      Creating employee handbooks / code of conduct and other business wide policies

·      Offering benefit plans or other incentives to employees and drafting these agreements

None of this, of course, should deter people from their dreams of owning and operating a brewery; it is a widely expanding field that has seen much success for those who do it the right way. Having the right team in place, both internally and externally, is imperative. It goes way beyond expertise in making and selling beer, and into the realm of tax policy, human resources functions, bookkeeping and auditing. It’s a business and should be treated like any other one; watching out for the above traps and utilizing a trusted advisor or third party at times will go a long way towards making it a successful one.

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Steve Treglia, CPA, is a manager with BlumShapiro, the largest regional business advisory firm based in New England, with offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The firm, with a team of over 500, offers a diversity of services, which include auditing, accounting, tax and business advisory services such as HR and bookkeeping. Blum serves a wide range of privately held companies, government and non-profit organizations and provides non-audit services for publicly traded companies. To learn more visit us at blumshapiro.com.