Remember a couple hours ago when I got you all excited about bars giving away free beer?
"No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy..."
Yeah, well it looks like you're probably going to have to travel a bit in order to get that free sample.
See, as I was reminded by cool thinking Collin on the blog, Washington State has some pretty strict laws when it comes to booze. And one of those laws happens to be that free alcohol "can't be used in advertising," according to Anne Radford at the Washington State Liquor Control Board.Radford was kind enough to give me a run-down on all the possible exceptions to the "no free fun juice" law, just in case--between the two of us--we were able to find a loophole.
The law, for example, does allow for craft distillers to offer free samples of their product at their facility (like at the end of a tour, or something similar). Beer and wine tastings held by grocery stores and wine shops are okay. And while the general rule is that bars and restaurants must sell alcohol "at or above acquisition cost," Radford explained that there were a few rare exceptions. A restaurant giving you a free glass of wine on your birthday? That's cool. Same thing if they want to comp you a cocktail because of poor service or the waiter putting his thumb in your soup.
But really, there's just no way around this "no free booze for advertising" thing. And you know what? Washington isn't the only state where Budweiser is going to have this problem.
According to an AP story already making the rounds, Bud is going to run into trouble with all sorts of local and state laws regulating the giving away of free drinks to anyone who asks. And the most confounding of these problems seems to be that, because of the variance among rules state-to-state, Anheuser-Busch can't even really talk about the promotion (beyond announcing that it exists) or tell people, you know, where it might be happening.
This, from the AP:
"Anheuser-Busch president Dave Peacock said the beer is sometimes taken for granted. Sales have been falling for 20 years as light beers continue to gain in popularity; they now make up about half the market. So new drinkers are key for Budweiser.
It's just that Anheuser-Busch can't tell them specifics about the samples.
'We're doing our best to make sure, where we can, coordinate and let people know, directing them through Facebook, to their local bar and restaurants,' Peacock said Thursday.
The confusion is at least generating talk about the brand, he said."
Unfortunately, the way things look right now, talking about the brand is about all drinkers in Seattle are going to be able to do.
Or at least all they'll be able to do for free.