Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing, and Distribution

Norris McLaughlin’s liquor law attorneys handle all issues related to liquor law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, such as licensing, business planning and structuring, transactional counseling (including distribution agreements and obtaining U.S. Small Business Administration loans), and litigation.  Our clients include brewers, distillers, wholesalers, distributors, restaurants, bars, hotels, stadiums, and other public venues. Many of these businesses are start-ups who are able to leverage our experience into controlling initial costs.

Our attorneys understand the complexities of the regulatory framework governing the acquisition and use of a liquor license in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  We represent clients in all types of license-related matters, including license issuance and renewal, citation defense, transfers and purchases of licenses, and compliance with applicable liquor laws and regulations.  We work closely with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Pa.L.C.B.) and New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to see that your business goals are achieved while maintaining regulatory compliance.

In Pennsylvania, we assist clients in securing all licenses issued by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board including: Restaurant, Hotel, Distributor, Brewery, Limited Winery, Limited Distillery, Club, Transporter for Hire, Importing, Performing Arts Facility, and Public Venue licenses.  We also work closely with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement setting guidelines for compliance issues such as malt beverage registration in the Commonwealth.  Our attorneys have also been involved in re-writing the Pennsylvania Liquor Code and Regulations to facilitate the growth of the craft beer industry in the Commonwealth.  We also regularly advise other manufacturers including limited wineries and limited distilleries on compliance issues and securing the appropriate permits from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

In New Jersey, we assist clients with matters concerning all three classes of liquor licenses: Class A manufacturing licenses (e.g., Plenary Brewery, Limited Brewery, Restricted Brewery, Plenary Winery, Farm Winery, Wine Blending, Out-of-State Winery, Cidery and Meadery, Plenary Distillery, Limited Distillery, Craft Distillery, Rectifier and Blender, and Bonded Warehouse Bottling); Class B distribution licenses (e.g. Plenary Wholesale, Limited Wholesale, Wine Wholesale, and State Beverage Distributor); and Class C retail licenses (e.g., Plenary Retail Consumption, Plenary Retail Distribution, Club Licenses, Seasonal Retail Consumption, and Hotel/Motel License).  Our attorneys help clients navigate the regulatory and procedural aspects of obtaining a license from the ABC or local municipality as applicable.

Our liquor law attorneys also handle all aspects of federal regulatory permitting from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and trademark filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  Our attorneys regularly file Brewers Notices and applications for wineries and distilleries.  We assist clients with Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) issues and formula approval.  With the growth of craft beer and spirits, trademarking issues have significantly increased.  Our liquor attorneys regularly interact with our intellectual property attorneys who specialize in alcohol trademark matters such as clearance of prospective brand names to ensure they are available for use and registration, prosecution of U.S. trademark applications, defending and prosecuting oppositions and cancellations against trademark applications and litigations before the U.S. Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and bringing and defending trademark infringement suits in the federal courts.

Our representation of breweries and wholesalers extends beyond Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and involves national issues concerning beer distribution rights. As counsel to large and small craft breweries and chain brew pub restaurants, our attorneys regularly research alcohol laws from around the United States and prepare and negotiate distribution agreements.  Since alcohol law is such a unique area, many states have varying laws relative to beer franchise laws and the combination of a brewery and service restaurant.  We are able to navigate those issues for clients so they can best realize opportunities in other states.

Our attorneys have tried multiple cases in county and federal court, including jury trials and hundreds of cases before arbitration panels, district justices, and administrative law judges. They have acted as lead counsel in a beer franchise rights cases brought against the world’s largest brewers and serve as outside general counsel to Yuengling Brewery. Our attorneys have testified before the Senate Law and Justice Committee regarding changes to Pennsylvania beer franchise laws. We have also helped create a coalition of Pennsylvania breweries and represented those breweries in addressing industry concerns relating to these proposed changes to franchise laws. Our litigation experience even includes anti-trust issues, federal trademark infringement cases between suppliers and state and federal environmental enforcement actions. Our litigation experience also includes representation in state liquor license violation cases specific to issues, such as serving alcohol to minors, serving alcohol after hours, occupancy violations, health and safety code violations, noise violations, and nuisance bar program designations.

NM’s attorneys are frequent lecturers in the area of liquor law, and regularly contribute to the firm’s Liquor Law Blog highlighting legal and business issues in the industry.

Attorneys in the firm are members of:

  • Brewers of America
  • Brewers of Pennsylvania
  • Brewers Guild of New Jersey
  • New Jersey Brewers Association
  • National Association of Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Attorneys

Our Liquor Law Clients Include:

  • Yuengling Brewery
  • Shangy’s The Beer Authority
  • Brewers of Pennsylvania
  • Bolete
  • Grille 3501
  • Fiesta Olé Mexican Restaurants
  • Cariel Spirits
  • Allentown Symphony Association
  • Victory Brewing Company
  • North Country Brewing
  • Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
  • Manatawny Still Works
  • Sly Fox Brewing Company
  • Youell’s Oyster House
  • Paxos Restaurant Group
  • Sixpoint Brewery
  • The Iron Abbey
  • ArtsQuest
  • Remy Cointreau S.A.
  • Fegley Brew Works


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