Crowds of people regularly flock to farmers markets seeking new brands, new tastes, and an intimate experience with local treats. For much of California, and especially the San Diego area, farmers’ markets can operate year-round as a great tool both for selling product and marketing a brand. The California legislature’s passage of Assembly Bill 2004 and Assembly Bill 774 allows for beer to be sold at farmers’ markets. This means that craft breweries have an entirely new market to advertise and sell their products, letting its beer take its place as a piece of local pride amongst other local foods and drinks.
Although beer sales are now allowed at farmers markets, a brewer cannot simply arrive and begin selling beer to the public. Like most things in the alcohol business, there are a series of rules and regulations that a business must operate within. The key hurdle for a beer business to sell at a farmers’ market is attaining a Type 84 alcohol permit (Certified Farmers’ Market Beer Sales Permit) from California’s Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC.
In order to receive a Type 84 permit from ABC, the applicant must first be a licensed beer manufacturer in California, meaning that the applicant needs to hold either a Type 01 (Beer Manufacturer) or Type 23 (Small Beer Manufacturer) before it can receive a Type 84 permit. If the applicant is a holder of either of these forms of licenses, then the applicant needs to follow the same basic type of process as it took to receive either the Type 01 or Type 23 license.
If the permit is granted, it is still not a free pass to sell beer at any farmers’ markets the manufacturer would like. Instead, a Type 84 permit authorizes the permit holder to one day per week at a single farmers’ market. A brewer must obtain a separate Type 84 permit for each farmers’ market address at which the brewer would like to sell. A brewer may obtain multiple permits but each one is valid for only one location. Obtaining additional permits will never allow a brewer to participate in the same farmers’ market multiple times in a single week. Additionally, permits may only be obtained to sell at farmers’ markets within the county or a county adjacent to the location where the beer is manufactured.
There are a few parameters that all beer sellers must stay within while participating at a farmers’ market. First is that providing samples at the farmers’ market is strictly forbidden. Additionally, re-filling of any container is not permissible. This means that while pre-filled and sealed growlers can be sold, re-filling growlers or pouring them on-site will violate California law.
A separate limitation which is important to note is that California limits the total amount of beer that a single beer manufacturer can sell at farmers’ markets per year. Currently, the limit is set at 5,000 gallons per year. This limitation makes it imperative that a permit holder maintain accurate sales records the entire time it sells at farmers’ market, so as to ensure that this limit is not exceeded. The state may require these records in order for the brewer to prove compliance.
The privilege of selling beer at farmers’ markets can only be used at a certified farmers’ market as described within Chapter 10.5 of Division 17 of the Food and Agriculture Code. For the purposes of ensuring that a brewer can legally sell beer at such a farmers’ market, search for the desired farmers’ market through either the USDA registry or California’s registry.