Raising a pint to the brewers
Ever had a beer in Utah, where you’re required by law to relinquish your first glass before they’ll place the second one on your table? Not an onerous rule, but unnecessary and irritating.
And that’s exactly how to describe what the city of Aspen is doing to the Aspen Brewing Company, which plans to open its doors soon on North Mill Street. In a recent letter to brewery owners Duncan Clauss and Brad Veltman, Community Development Director Chris Bendon suggested limiting brewery customers to 16 ounces of beer on the premise and restricting what content the brewers could show on their television.
This is all in the name of discouraging a “bar atmosphere” or, in other words, prohibiting patrons from having too much fun.
In fairness, readers should understand that Bendon and his department are not on some mean-spirited moral crusade. Rather, they’re trying to protect Aspen’s service-commercial-industrial zone district, or SCI, which was created for businesses that can no longer fly in Aspen’s overpriced downtown ” think appliance repair, car detailing, dog-grooming and the like.
Breweries are allowed in SCI, but only a quarter of the overall floor area can be devoted to retail sales. Restaurants and bars are not allowed in SCI.
So, Bendon is correct to discourage the creation of a new tavern on North Mill. But that doesn’t seem to be what Clauss and Veltman are proposing, and restricting patrons to one pint (or four 4-ounce samplers) is meddlesome overregulation.
Asking the brewers not to screen football games and “general viewership programming” is even worse. Bendon’s letter suggested “promotional videos, videos about beer-making,” but that sounds like a torture technique directed against brewery employees.
As Bendon acknowledges in his letter, it’s appropriate for customers to be able to sample the beers in a “tasting room” environment. The brewers liken it to a tasting room at a winery, which is a far cry from a bar. We’ll admit that beer drinkers more commonly are found in bars than wine drinkers, and that beer is more commonly associated with belching, tone-deaf singing and other undesirable barroom behaviors.
But we still don’t understand how a small space on placid, out-of-the-way North Mill Street could be construed as a bar ” especially when it’s open from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Clauss and Veltman are expected to appeal to the City Council for leniency, and we hope the council will allow the brewers to have just a little bit more fun.
Everything in moderation, from drinking to government rules.
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