Breweries Lobbying to Roll Back Food Requirements

CT Brewers Guild argues that updated rules ask breweries to do something they are not prepared to do.

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Earlier this month, the state updated regulations, requiring places that serve alcohol to not only serve food but to make sure it is a sit-down meal. Now, breweries around the state are pushing back.

On December 14, the CT Brewers Guild wrote a letter to Governor Ned Lamont and the General Assembly. They are calling on state leaders to reduce or eliminate the food requirements at places that serve alcohol.

State regulations, updated Dec. 2, say alcoholic beverages may not be served to patrons unless they are seated and consuming food prepared on the property. Substantial meals are now being required and brewery operators say it’s unfair.

“Breweries never got into business to become restaurants. We never had food requirements before,” said Marty Juliano, director of business development at New England Brewing in Woodbridge.

According to the CT Brewers Guild, there are 116 breweries in the state, and most are not equipped for this.

“95% of our breweries don’t have kitchens. They either have to outsource it to third parties including food trucks or caterers or they have to do it themselves,” said CT Brewers Guild Executive Director Phil Pappas.

So, while the taps continue to flow and glasses filled, many breweries rely on food trucks to help them adhere to guidelines some customers don’t agree with.

“I don’t come around as much as I used to because I have to spend that much more money buying food even when I’m not hungry,” said Lauren Kenefick of Woodbridge.

During his news briefing Thursday, Governor Ned Lamont was asked about the letter from the guild and said he is not inclined to relax the protocols.

“Breweries, bars, places where you’re taking off your mask and socializing while you’re having a drink, even if you’re sitting down is risky behavior,” said Lamont. “I think we’re going to have to be strict a little bit longer.”

In its letter to the state, the Brewers Guild offered a counter proposal to prevent large gatherings. Instead of food regulations, they are offering to reduce the number of party sizes. Right now, the cap is at eight people per seating.

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