Community Perspective

No Alaska ‘bar wars’ over proposed regulation

I am heartened to see an overwhelming and united response in opposition to the latest attempt from the state Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office to further restrict the new alcohol licenses for breweries, distilleries, and wineries.

It is my understanding that even the AMCO board does not support the new proposed language that the director and staff have presented to them and the public as a new section of the Alaska Administrative Code (3 AAC 304.390 Definitions).

As the owner of an alcohol manufacturing facility in downtown Fairbanks who is proud to have taken on the huge investment of restoring a large historic building, Old City Hall. I would also like to address the commonly heard subject of the supposed “war” going on between the bars and breweries/distilleries. I don’t see it.

Myself, I look at all bars as customers of my quality Alaska-made products, and many bar owners are my friends. They know I am not operating a bar; I operate a tasting room that stops serving alcohol early in the evening — by state law, at 8 p.m. — where bar owners and the public can come in and sample my wares in extremely limited quantities.

Unfortunately, I am also restricted in the ways that I can present my product, such as being able to show folks what my products would taste like as a martini, as we are forbidden from using vermouth.

We local manufacturers produce Fairbanks products that are export-worthy and that are bringing good attention to our small community from around the world.

Local bars like being able to present local spirits that are winning medals in competitions around the world. In fact, one of the local hotels, which has a bar and a big garden, gives us potatoes that we use to make our potato vodka with. How great a collaboration is that?

It is my hope that a new modernized Title IV of state law will involve distilleries, breweries, and wineries. I saw nothing in the previous version that benefited them or even attempted to correct and modernize the failed restrictive verbiage of our authorizing Alaska statutes. That is obviously needed from the repeated problems that we all seem to go through every year with AMCO that the previous Title IV was not inclusive of the whole industry.

Instead of trying to destroy our businesses every year, I would like to see the Legislature and AMCO helping to support our young industries. Distilleries, breweries, and wineries do not want to be required to buy more licenses; we merely want our present licenses fixed and in line with what the public wants us to offer.

As pointed out in repeated Fairbanks Daily News-Miner articles over the past few weeks, most all of us are united in our opposition to AMCO’s proposed restrictive wording.

In fact, it is not AMCO’s place to attempt to define what the Legislature meant in the bills that were passed authorizing alcohol manufacturing in Alaska. That is the Legislature’s duty.

Please contact AMCO at amco.regs@alaska.gov or send a note to 550 W. Seventh Ave., Suite 1600, Anchorage, AK 99501 and request they drop their proposed new regulation.

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