Avoiding Red Tape when starting your Craft Distillery
Deciding to start any business is a risk. Deciding to start a business in distilling is an adventure. But like any adventure, there are pitfalls along the way to triumph. You have to worry about acquiring licenses, property, custom glass bottles, equipment and the necessary ingredients. Establishing a distillery also requires a lot of cooperation from local residents in the area where you plan to set up operations and a headache-enduring amount of paperwork and fees. In the case of one local man in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, his dreams of starting his own distillery have begun to come together and is ready to start sharing the fruits of his hard work with locals, that is, if he can get past the red tape of one local council.
The problem for Rustic Crow Vodka and its creator, Joseph Schebel, is not concerns about loud, ruckus behavior emanating from would be patrons, but a matter of space limitations. Schebel plans to have a tasting room as part of the distilling plant, located in the front of the building where patrons could sample his product and as well as buy it. The problem lies in that the council for which Schebel is seeking approval states the parking lot can only hold 4 cars at a time, while the tasting room can accommodate up to 22. Schebel has acquired permission from surround business to use their parking spaces, but that does little to persuade the council’s opinion in Schebel’s favor.
Joseph Schebel’s story is just one in the history of craft distilling and brewing. Discrepancies such as these are nothing new in the business. Since before the days of prohibition, craft distillers, breweries and others of the spirit making business have endured setbacks and roadblocks due to the legal system and other figures of authority regulating what can be sold, where, how much and by whom. But it’s also because of limitations imposed by the government that some of the most unique and well received spirits have come to be (Moonshine, anyone?).
Distilling spirits in ones private residents is consider illegal on both federal and state levels in America, but laws of distribution varies by state, and there are several nationwide recognized laws set in place by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB that all alcohol manufactures and distributors must adhere with. It is not uncommon for distillers to take their fight and their dreams to the steps of court, challenging, influencing and even sometimes changing laws of restriction and other topics of association. The American Craft Distillers Association, or ACDA, has been a pivotal source for legal knowledge and support in the matter of law and how to combat unlawful actions against distillers, as well as information on just about every stage of distilling.
Time has proven that like any determined force, those behind their endeavors often do see headway, but the solutions are seldom easy and patience, while a virtue in any profession, can be a factor many just can’t live with when their income and livelihood is tied up in the dream they’ve poured everything they have into. For Joseph Schebel, the plight of his situation and the hope for resolution is in a state of limbo, waiting to meet with the council again to further discuss the terms for the future of his business. While some council members have declared their assertion that their ruling will not be overruled, Schebel is as equally determined to see his business flourish.