By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,453)
“If I had known before what I now know about the beer laws in Maine, I would not have put on this Festival,” said Dan Shelton this afternoon as he supervised crews cleaning-up from the beer tasting that took place over the weekend and said goodbye to brewers at the Portland Company Complex.
The FESTIVAL was welcomed to Portland as a special event because it is rare to find so many outstanding craft beers in one place according to Doug Weber, in the prior post herein. Furthermore, the boon to hotels, restaurants and the tourist industry generally was acclaimed as well.
“I won’t be back until the laws in Maine change,” the likeable Shelton added. Shelton, an attorney, said there were a number of issues he has with how beer festivals are regulated by the state of Maine.
The first difficulty the organizers ran into was that only volunteers are permitted to pour samples of the beer for guests. No brewer or brewery employee could pour any of the samples. This law prevented brewers from visiting with guests which is an important feature of any such gathering. Beer lovers want details about how craft beers are produced; this opportunity was lost and brewers from overseas were limited in their exposure to product supporters.
Last night, the last session was supposed to have begun at 6:30. Because it ran short of volunteers, the evening session was unable to begin until around 7 pm.
Another serious issue the accessible Shelton has with the State laws is the limit of 48 oz. of beer each guest during each four-hour session.
“The state can’t tell anyone how much they need to drink, unless of course they drink too much,” Shelton said. He was amazed to see the number of drunks coming out of bars in the Old Port over the weekend and there was no law enforcement happening in those instances.
Shelton acknowledged that in fact the FESTIVAL lost money and did not break even.
None of the three sessions from Friday evening to Saturday evening sold out as previously reported on mhn.com. “It’s a delicate balance between the ticket price and the number of people attending the event,” he said.
“I want to start a dialogue with the state about these issues,” Shelton said. “These are bad laws. Maybe we can change them.”
Shelton acknowledged that he has successfully litigated law suits in New York and elsewhere to fix bad laws.
“It’s something I feel strongly about. I started as a beer enthusiastic and I’ve become a full-time lawyer with a full legal caseload.” Then he was on headed home to start writing a brief.
The FESTIVAL was sponsored by 12% Imports and the 17-year-old Shelton Brothers. It was held in Building # 2 at Portland Yacht Services, 58 Fore Street.
Editor’s Note: This is not the first time that MHN.com has heard complaints about the beer regulation laws in Maine, but Shelton was the first to speak out about it publicly.