On Friday at 10:00am, we had our license hearing with the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. Bucket Brewers Nate, Drew and Erik made it down to Cranston for the event.
We had prepared well, with multiple copies of all of the documentation, knowledge of the business plan and defenses for any possible questions. We had been at odds with a couple of the members of the hearing panel regarding distribution, and wanted to leave no room for error. Fortunately, they were friendly and accommodating. We went through each piece of required documentation, entering the approval of each into the official record of the meeting. For anyone who may one day be interested, this includes the application itself, criminal background checks from the RI attorney general, tax affidavits swearing that we paid our taxes, a balance sheet for our bank account, fire inspection report, zoning approval form, registration for the delivery truck, photos of the truck, photos showing the separate office, and proof that notification of this hearing had been sent to our neighbors. Once all of that was officially accepted, the meeting was over!
We did stay for a while to discuss further issues, such as labeling and distribution, and to set up a time for an inspector to come see the facility and the truck. It seems like they basically want proof that these exist and aren’t some skilled Photoshop renderings. The inspector should show up with the license in hand, making it all official once he sees everything in person.
A somewhat related downside to all of this is that we lost the argument regarding being able to distribute our own beer. The most likely result will be having to go through a distributor, though we are exploring other options. The laws seem to support our view that we can distribute our own beer, but the most important law on the books is the one that states that Business Regulation can interpret the laws however they’d like. This means that no matter who is right in principal, Business Regulation gets their way in reality. Fortunately, they do seem very willing to help us get the law changed, so we feel they are in our corner, despite the disagreement.
So, now we start shopping for distributors and put the finishing touches on the equipment. With any luck, we’ll be on tap at your favorite bars this summer!