KS liquor stores want in-store tastings

From the Topeka, KS, Capital-Journal:

TOPEKA, KS -- Liquor store clerk Shawn McKeever can taste the commercial appeal of serving customers a shot of Belgium's Corsendonk Brown Ale, Xingu Black of Brazil, Italy's Peroni or Old Speckled Hen Pub Draft from England.

It could be possible at Fleming Place Wine and Spirits, 4001 S.W. 10th, as well as at liquor stores across Kansas, if lawmakers adopt a bill introduced in the Senate allowing retailers to host in-store tastings for people interested in trying unfamiliar beers, wines or distilled spirits.

"We've talked about it," McKeever said. "We sell a lot of craft beer."

The legislation proposed by several liquor marketing associations is a byproduct of controversy that emerged after retailers started arranging tastings in direct proximity to their licensed liquor stores. It was common understanding state law blocked consumption of alcoholic beverages inside stores, so proprietors staged the events within close proximity.

Representatives of the Kansas Department of Revenue pulled the curtain on that setup. The revenue department's Alcoholic Beverage Control division issued a policy memorandum in August declaring the agency's interpretation of Kansas law prohibited samplings — free of charge or not — “in, on, or about the licensed premises.”

ABC concluded no tastings would be authorized for party or smoke shops, parking lots, sidewalks or alleys adjacent to liquor store property. The zone of prohibition extended in front, behind, above, below and to sides of stores, officials said.

R.E. "Tuck" Duncan, a Statehouse lobbyist working with organizations seeking passage of the bill, said the objective was to establish into statute the opportunity for liquor stores to host tastings in a manner reflecting events well known to wine-country enthusiasts. A Senate hearing on the bill is likely in a couple of weeks. The measure hasn't sparked an outpouring of criticism, he said.

"The prospects are very good, but being a liquor bill, I'm cautiously optimistic," Duncan said.

[Go here for the full story.]

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