Chapter 22

Government Beer Regulations

State Beer Regulations

In addition to meeting Federal regulations, individuals and businesses must comply with state regulations too. These state regulations, which vary widely from state to state, may be more restrictive than Federal regulations and must be met in addition to Federal requirements unless the Federal law pre-empts the State law wherein they desire to do business.

Alcoholic Beverage Control Boards

Following national Prohibition, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution provides states with broad powers and authority to regulate the production, importation, distribution, retail sale, and consumption of alcohol beverages inside their borders. (This is in addition to Federal requirements.) Each state created its own unique system of alcohol beverage control. There are two general classifications-open and "control" states.

Open States

The larger group (now referred to as "license" or "open" states) license all aspects of private production, distribution, and sales.

Control States

he smaller group (now referred to as "control" or "monopoly" states) opted to become wholesalers and retailers themselves for wine and spirits.


On the state and local level, the license process varies widely. In some areas, the state is the lead agency for all licenses (manufacturer's and retailer's licenses), and local approval is not necessary except to confirm proper zoning.

Retailer Licenses

Some states may control the number and type of beer retailers by issuing retail licenses and by determining to which retailer's credit can be extended. Some also determine permissible locations for the sale of beer: on-premise, in restaurants and bars; and off-premise, in grocery stores, gas stations, liquor stores, and drug stores.


Every state imposes an excise tax on beer that is levied as a dollar amount on a specified volume (in liquid measure-e.g., gallons). On January 1, 2008, state excise taxes ranged from $0.02 per gallon in Wyoming to $1.07 per gallon in Alaska.

Container Deposit Laws

Certain states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, and a small number of local jurisdictions, have adopted beverage packaging laws and regulations that require deposits on beverage containers.

Click on the following topics for more information on government beer regulations.