A protest against the proposed regulations by Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board decorate the walls of the during First Friday on Oct. 4, 2019. They weren’t the only ones to share an opinion. During a public comment period, 1,274 pages of comments were submitted. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

A protest against the proposed regulations by Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board decorate the walls of the during First Friday on Oct. 4, 2019. They weren’t the only ones to share an opinion. During a public comment period, 1,274 pages of comments were submitted. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Alaskans weigh in on polarizing proposed change to breweries, distilleries

Proposed regulation change to limit activities in breweries and distilleries draws 1,274 pages of comments

People had a lot to say about a controversial definition change that could limit events held at breweries, wineries and distilleries in Alaska.

A total of 1,274 pages of comments were collected regarding a proposed new definition that could prohibit festivals, games, competitions, classes, parties, presentations, performances and other types of organized social gatherings at breweries, wineries and distilleries, according to statements attributed to Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office Executive Director Erika McConnell.

[Brewers and Distillers speak out against proposed regulation change]

McConnell said through special assistant to the commissioner Glenn Hoskinson that the number of pages is not the exact number of comments, and comments, which were submitted between late August and Oct. 4., are still being counted.

Hoskinson said in an email the number of comments received was above average.

The definition change being mulled over by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has been controversial and polarizing with proponents and detractors in Juneau and throughout the state.

The schism is over whether business practices that thrive under the current law should be able to do so.

Currently, those with manufacturing licenses aren’t allowed to have live entertainment, televisions, pool tables, dart games, dancing, electronic or other games or game tables, or “other recreational or gaming opportunities.”

That wording is why breweries and distilleries have been able to host First Friday events and fundraisers. A more stringent definition would end that, which is what has drawn manufacturers’ ire.

On the other hand, proponents of the change — many of whom are bar or liquor store owners — see it as stopping an over-reach by manufacturers and closing an unintended loophole.

[Legislator seeks ceasefire in bar wars]

Exactly how many of the thousands of pages of comments were for or against the potential new definition is not yet known. However, the comments will be public within the next few weeks. They will be on the AMCO website as part of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board’s meeting packet prior to the board’s Nov. 12 meeting.

The regulation and the comments will be discussed at that meeting.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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