When you hear words like symposium and law review, your mind probably doesn’t associate those academic pursuits with beer.
But that’s exactly what experts from around the nation will be discussing when they convene on Friday as part of an event held by the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law.
The result of this discussion will be a law review, possibly the first-ever focused entirely on beer.
CapRadio's Randol White spoke with Dan Croxall, Associate Professor at the McGeorge School of Law, and Thomas Gerhart, Editor in Chief of the University of the Pacific Law Review, about the event.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
How did you decide that beer was the right focus for this upcoming event and publication?
Gerhart: I was taking a craft beer law class with Professor Croxall and I had gone into that class just kind of with this common perception: all right, it's statutes and regulations and, you know, it's not really that glamorous. And I was very narrow-minded on the topic, but my perceptions, they proved to be entirely wrong. It's an expansive topic. It touches so many areas of the law. And I don't think a lot of people realize that. And for me, I usually cheer for the underdog, which in the realm of beer law, if you're looking at it from the standpoint of craft brewers, you really have to do because you're essentially pursuing equity and justice in the brewing industry.
Are beer laws that different from wine or distilled spirits like vodka or tequila, that there needs to be a symposium just focused on beer laws?
Croxall: That's a great question. There's a lot of similarities and overlap, but there are a lot of situations where they get treated differently based on the style of product. So a small example that's really kind of hot right now that I talk about is direct-to-consumer shipments out of state. That's a big deal, of course, during covid-19 the pandemic. Most states don't allow a brewery to ship from out of state into their jurisdiction directly to the consumer. But wineries, of course, everyone wants Napa wine, right? So wineries have had a strong lobby for a long time and they've been able to make changes over time to where most states allow wines to ship interstate direct to consumer. But beer hasn't caught up yet. And, you know, maybe that'll change post covid. We'll see. But that's just kind of one example of how the laws can differ.
During the pandemic, shipping really became everything. So I imagine there are a lot of brewers out there that are sorry this change didn't come sooner.
Croxall: Yes. I mean, direct-to-consumer sales was everything during the pandemic. If you think about it, you know, two of the breweries' main three lines of revenue were cut off. Right. So direct to consumer sales were cut off because the breweries and brewpubs were closed. Restaurants, so keg beer, that was essentially down. The median drop was 100% during COVID because bars and restaurants were closed. And so the only way they were making any money was direct-to-consumer sales in terms of growlers and to-go and maybe some merch, things like that. But an open line for direct-to-consumer out of state would have been extremely helpful.
Is the symposium open to the public?
Croxall: Yes, it is actually, and the more, the merrier. We'd love to have people come listen and hear what scholars are writing about and thinking about in this area. And it should be interesting and fun. It's not going to be long and laborious. Each presentation would be, you know, roughly 15 minutes with some Q&A. So you can kind of come in and check out a new topic and see what interests you.
The review is expected this summer. Will those articles be easily accessible?
Gerhart: Yes, absolutely. We make all of our articles available for free on our website. And through that location, you can find all of our issues dating back to the 1970s.
To RSVP for the symposium’s Zoom link, guests need to email: [email protected]
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.