Pinot politics: Oregon Alcohol Laws Under Fire

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Stoel Rives attorney Chris Hermann, co-chair of the firm's Food, Beverage and Hospitality group, was recently quoted in The Oregonian's three-part series on Oregon's Prohibition-era liquor laws.

In the first article, Hermann points out that the local alcohol beverage industry has thrived despite laws that were written 80 years ago to throttle it. He notes that until recently laws intended to keep producers, distributors and retailers separate outlawed brewpubs. They thrive now only because brewers such as the Widmers and the McMenamins went to the legislature to get the laws changed.

"People were wanting to cripple the industry" when Oregon's alcohol laws were drafted, Hermann says. He adds, "I spend a lot of time counseling people on how to take their contemporary business model and essentially contort it" to fit within state rules.

In the final installment, Hermann points out the industry has changed dramatically since the 1930s, when most of Oregon's alcohol laws were written. Oregonians' concerns have shifted from protecting the public to producing and selling alcohol products to discerning customers.

"We're heading toward a world in which there will be greater freedom for producers, whether it's beer, wine or spirits," Hermann says. "It's just a matter of time before the state gets nudged out of the business."

Read all three articles here.

"Pinot politics: Oregon Alcohol Laws Under Fire," a three-part series, was published by The Oregonian on September 8, 9 and 10, 2012.

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Christopher R. Hermann
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