A beer license enables you to sell or serve beer in your store or restaurant. This required license comes with many regulations, such as checking the age of everyone buying beer from you. There are several necessary steps which vary by state or locality. Here's how to get a beer license:
- Determine what type of beer license you need. Often they are issued in combined beer and liquor licensed, which allow the sale of both beer and liquor. If you just want to serve beer at a party or other event, but don't plan to sell it routinely, you may need a license from the liquor store, but it is usually a less involved procedure than the beer license you need if you plan to sell beer in your store or restaurant.
- Contact the appropriate authority. The appropriate government agency varies by state and locality. If in doubt, you can always ask a local store or restaurant who they were required to contact. The appropriate contact may be your state's liquor board, or your city clerk.
- Read the rules. The rules for obtaining a beer license will vary depending on your location. You may need to reside in the state for a set period of time before applying for a beer license. Reading the rules before you apply can help you make sure that everything is in order, reducing the chances that your application will be denied.
- Get a seller's permit and other required paperwork. Before you get a license to sell beer, you need to obtain a seller's permit, usually from the Department of Revenue. You will also need to complete a training course on serving alcohol responsibly. Initially only the applicant for the license needs this training, but once you are able to serve alcohol, every employee involved in serving or selling alcohol will need this training. You may also need to check with the zoning board to make sure that the serving or selling of beer is allowed in the area, and a health approval if you are serving food.
- Prepare the forms. Beer licenses are highly regulated, and can require background checks, fingerprinting, social security numbers, and other identification. There may be quite a few supporting forms that you are required to send along with your application.
- Apply for a beer license. Understand that many states or towns limit the number of liquor licensed they grant, so even if you have filled out the forms to qualify for a license, you may not be able to obtain one at this time.
- Issue a public announcement. Though sometimes the town or state will do this step for you, in other cases you must do it yourself. You must advertise a public announcement, usually in the daily paper, for at least three days. This serves to notify the public that you have applied for a beer license.
- Attend the public hearing. In many areas, a hearing for public input must be scheduled before your application for a beer license will be reviewed. If beer licenses are handled on the city level, the City Council may render their verdict at this hearing.
- Pay the fees. The cost for obtaining a beer license varies depending on what you plan to sell, the overall volume you will sell, and your hours of operation, among other variables.
Obtaining a beer license is a time-consuming and often confusing process. Every state has different names for the entity handling beer licensing, along with their own rules and regulations for beer license applications.