The Virginia legislature has made it a bit easier to get a stiff drink.
Several laws passed by the General Assembly take effect Saturday, including new laws that allow distilleries to distribute their wares at festivals and events.
Another law allows the purchase of individual cans of beer in stores and permits delivery of closed containers of wine and beer to a customers’ vehicle as part of online ordering and store pickup programs.
Also going into effect is a law that allows Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control stores to sell liquor and spirits as strong as 151 proof, or 75.5 percent alcohol by volume. The current limit is 101 proof, or 50.5 percent by volume.
The Virginia distillery industry applauded the decision allowing them to attend festivals.
“Craft spirits festivals are growing in number and represent an excellent way to introduce Virginia consumers to the many outstanding distilled products made here in the commonwealth,” said Curtis Coleburn, of the Virginia Distillers Association. “Without this legislation, visitors to an event who find a product they like must be directed to a Virginia ABC store to make a purchase. The new law will eliminate missed sales opportunities.”
The association already is planning for festivals similar to statewide wine festivals. A Sept. 16 festival will be held in Roanoke and one later this fall is being scheduled in Hampton Roads, according to association officials.
“Many Virginia spirits products are available only regionally in the state or even just at the distillery,” said Mary Beth Williams, of Williams Compliance. The company takes care of compliance reports required by various government agencies, including ABC, on behalf of wineries, breweries and distilleries.
“Consumers will now have the chance to taste products from multiple Virginia distilleries at these events, learn the story behind each product, and purchase products that might not be available at their local Virginia ABC store,” Williams said. “It’s a win-win for the industry and the consumers.”
ABC earlier this year rolled out a website allowing customers to order spirits online and then pick them up at stores. A new state law allows stores with beer and wine licenses to take orders online and then bring “closed containers of alcoholic beverages to a customer’s vehicle when that vehicle is parked in a designated space and the online order of that wine or beer was placed in advance of the delivery.”
Another law would allow a “commercial lifestyle center” alcohol beverage license to developments larger than 25 acres that have at least 100,000 square feet of retail, dining, entertainment, office and residential or hotel space.
The license would allow consumption “throughout the premises of the development, including plazas, seating areas, concourses, walkways and such other similar areas,” as long as the beverage was purchased within the center’s confines.
Among other laws taking effect Saturday are measures directing that alcoholic cider be treated as wine under state law and that people who run Airbnb rentals obtain a bed and breakfast license to serve alcohol to guests.