There is no doubt 2020 hit the restaurant and surrounding industry hard. It was, however, eased a somewhat by special rules from the state that allowed restaurants, breweries, and liquor stores to deliver beer and wine directly to customers. Those special provisions were only temporary and tied to the COVID-19 state of emergency.
While restaurants will likely still be tied to the state of emergency, two bills filed will allow breweries and liquor stores to continue delivering their products directly to customers.
SB32 will allow liquor stores to continue to deliver alcohol to customers within their county. Like the current provisions, this must be delivered to a customer over 21 years of age, and must be delivered by the liquor store employee. So no 3rd party delivery services.
For breweries, HB1066 will establish a beer shipping permit for local breweries. This would allow not only delivery of beer from breweries in Arkansas to residents, but also from outside breweries and from our breweries to non-Arkansas residents as long as their state allows beer shipping. This could provide some much needed relief to local breweries who have seen numbers decline dramatically this year. The permit will only cost $100 for the initial application and $50 a year for renewals.
If you have dealt with private clubs at all, you know that purchasing alcohol for sale is a mess. Private clubs have to go to a liquor store for all their needs, which is complicated for private clubs in many of the dry counties in Arkansas. HB1163 would amend the law regarding how private clubs must procure their alcohol by adding that it may be purchased from a licensed wholesaler. In HB1161 it will allow beer or cider brewed within a private club to be sold to other alcohol permit holders as well.
Finally, SB76 will allow alcohol to be served on a train in the state of Arkansas, so long as that train is in a wet county at the time of serving. So maybe we can finally get a booze train between Little Rock and NWA.