Massachusetts Alcohol Task Force Reports To Treasurer

One year ago, Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg convened an Alcohol Task Force to review the state’s alcoholic beverages industry. The idea was to generate “forward looking” recommendations of ways to modernize the state’s alcoholic beverage regulations.  All matters relating to alcoholic beverages are broadly under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (“ABCC”), an agency within the state Treasurer’s department.

In late 2017, the Task Force released a lengthy report containing numerous findings and recommendations.

As an example, regarding grocery stores, the Task Force recommended:

  • That local licensing authorities (LLAs) have the authority to decide the number of liquor licenses to be issued to grocery stores and supermarkets in their community.  This would be a marked change from the current law, which puts a “quota” on the number of off-premises or “package store” licenses available in particular municipalities, based on their population; and
  • That the ABCC be able to require grocery stores and supermarkets to designate a separate and/or particular area to sell alcohol within the licensed building, preferably with a separate door entrance and separate from the general areas to purchase non‐alcohol products.

Another Task Force recommendation proposed adopting a rule that out‐of‐state drivers licenses be an acceptable form of identification that a customer is of legal age to purchase alcohol in Massachusetts.  Another calls for more flexibility regarding licensee manager eligibility, despite prior criminal records.

The Task Force’s report only contains recommendations – it does not by itself change anything.  Its recommendations are subject to legislative and administrative review and modification before any may be enacted. Even if its recommendations are substantially changed, or ignored, the report is worthwhile as a snapshot of an alcoholic beverages industry in transition, as well as a road map for routes into a future that may, or may not, be taken.

Bob Hurwitz and Gene Richard named New England Super Lawyers

Hurwitz, Richard & Sencabaugh LLP is pleased to announce that Bob Hurwitz and Gene Richard have been named Massachusetts and New England Super Lawyers for the thirteenth consecutive year.  Bob Hurwitz was named in the field of construction law and Gene Richard in the field of administrative law for his work in liquor licensing.  The Super Lawyers list appears in Boston Magazine as well as the publication New England Super Lawyers and recognizes the top five percent of attorneys in New England.

Crafting A License To Brew

The Salem News has reported that Notch Brewery and Tap Room in Salem is on tap to begin operating soon:

The article mentions that Peabody is working on allowing craft breweries to specifically apply for a special permit — the characterization of craft breweries can be unclear under many zoning and permitting by-laws.

For a very handy list of breweries, searchable by state and other categories, see this link maintained by the Brewers Association: Consider adding the link to your “travel” folder!

Please contact us if you have any liquor licensing needs.

New Name: Hurwitz, Richard & Sencabaugh LLP

Effective July 1, 2016, our law firm’s name changed to Hurwitz, Richard & Sencabaugh LLP.

Hurwitz, Richard & Sencabaugh LLP (established in 1989 as Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz) will continue our practice focused primarily on the areas of construction law, liquor licensing/permitting and commercial collection of accounts receivable. We also handle civil litigation in all state and federal courts, arbitration and mediation, as well as counselling clients on a variety of other issues.

Please visit our website at for more information.

Bob Hurwitz Named Super Lawyer

Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz LLP is pleased to announce that Bob Hurwitz has been named a Massachusetts and New England Super Lawyer for the twelfth consecutive year in the field of construction law.  The Super Lawyers list appears in Boston Magazine as well as the publication New England Super Lawyers, and recognizes the top five percent of attorneys in New England.

Budweiser Pivot More Evidence Of Craft Beer Surge

To improve Budweiser’s appeal to a new younger crowd Anheuser-Busch InBev has decided to drop the famous Clydesdales from their future marketing campaigns. In “Bud Crowded Out by Craft Beer Craze” the Wall Street Journal reports on a growing trend that we have covered on this blog that points to a surge in popularity for smaller, local based, and smaller batch craft beers. This trend is starting to siphon away the popularity of larger brewers. This niche has now grown to the point that the large brewers are changing their game plan.

In 2013 craft beer represented 8% of the market compared with 2.6% in 1998. Massachusetts has seen success with craft beer, including craft beer’s first billionaire, but it may surprise you that Massachusetts is not among the leaders in the industry. Massachusetts’ 57 craft breweries ranks only 16th in the country, and it’s per capita ranking is only 24th. But those numbers are surging, like in all states.

Others Call For Increased Investigation Into Pay-to-Play

In a follow up to the first article regarding the ABCC investigating pay-to-play, Dan Adams of the Boston Globe reports that legislators, including Governor-elect Charle Baker, believe the state should “beef up its oversight of the liquor industry” if the ABCC finds the industry is engaging in illegal trade practices.

Currently, the ABCC’s enforcement budget is less than half of what it was seven years ago.

This issue is a great example of the difference between the alcoholic beverage industry and other food or beverage industries, particularly in Massachusetts. Because of the regulations on alcoholic beverages, some that date back to Prohibition, small local breweries face greater government restrictions to get to end users as compared with other products that may be stocked by bars, restaurants, or retailers. Local and small brewers have fewer options and a higher barrier to entry into the marketplace.

There are a few different Massachusetts regulations that prohibit this practice known as pay-to-play. A regulation against “inducements” states that no licensee “shall give or permit to be given money or any other thing of substantial value in any effort to induce any person to persuade or influence any other person to purchase…a particular brand of…beverage.” This is used to prevent one business in the industry from offering anything outside of the product itself to persuade another to commit to their product.

Massachusetts regulations also prohibit selling or offering to sell any beverage at  price less than invoiced cost. A situation which may occur if a retailer or bar is receiving a discount on products under a pay-to-play scenario.

Suppliers are also prohibited from offering inducements through price discrimination as outlawed by M.G.L. c. 138 s. 25A.

Craft breweries in Massachusetts are still soaring. In a recent article by James Fallows regarding Jim Koch, of Sam Adams beer, some startling facts are used to show the growth of the industry:

  • In 1971 there were less than 150 breweries, of any size, in the country.
  • That number went down by almost 50 breweries by 1984.
  • Now that number is over 3,000 and there are new breweries constantly being born across the country.
In the article Koch says the spread of craft beer is good for America, and Fallows agrees noting a link he has seen between a city’s craft beer scene and a young and entrepreneurial spirit. 

Howard J. Wayne Appointed as Founding Member of Action for Boston Community Development, Inc.’s (ABCD) Corporate Advisory Council

We are pleased to announce that Howard J. Wayne, partner of Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz LLP, has been appointed a founding member of the Corporate Advisory Council of Action for Boston Community Development, Inc.

Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. is a non-profit organization that helps fight poverty in Boston. Through their innovative programs, ABCD served over 85,000 clients in 2011 alone. ABCD provides basic services to help empower individuals, families and communities to overcome poverty, live with dignity and achieve their full potential.

For more information about ABCD, please go to

Robert W. Hurwitz and Eugene R. Richard Named Super Lawyers

Robert W. Hurwitz and Eugene R. Richard have both been named Massachusetts and New England Super Lawyers. Lawyers are nominated through a vigorous review process and only the top 5% of lawyers are named Super Lawyers. Super Lawyers have attained a high level of excellence, peer recognition, and professional achievement.

Bob Hurwitz specializes in construction law, commercial and business litigation. This is Bob’s ninth time being named a Super Lawyer, and he has been recognized every year since 2004.

Gene Richard specializes in a wide range of business and legal issues, including contract negotiation and enforcement, administrative and regulatory law, and corporate law. This is Gene’s ninth time being named a Super Lawyer and he has been recognized every year since 2004.

Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz Chairs Alcoholic Beverage Licensing MCLE

Until recently, the basics of liquor licensing in Massachusetts remained essentially the same since the repeal of Prohibition in the 1930s. Now, however, the times are a changin’ if you represent a restaurant, hotel, package store, supermarket, golf course, winery, brewer, or wholesaler, this program alerts you to the shifting landscape of alcoholic beverages licensing in Massachusetts.

On Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 3:00 P.M., Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz is chairing Update on Recent Developments & Trends in Alcoholic Beverage Licensing in Massachusetts, an exciting two-hour program at the MCLE Conference Center.  The panel includes:

Howard J. Wayne, Esq., Chair, Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz LLP, Boston

Gerald J. Caruso, Esq., Rubin and Rudman LLP, Boston

Nicole Murati Ferrer, Esq., Licensing Board, City of Boston, Boston

William A. Kelley, Jr., Esq., Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The program will also be available via Webcast.  For more information, or to register, click here.