Several breweries, beer distributors and retailers were subpoenaed in Massachusetts as part of a new investigation by state regulators into the allegations of “pay to play” deals.
According to a story on the Boston Globe, investigators for the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission are looking into whether there are practices of paying for, or demanding payments for, access to bar taps in pubs and restaurants and shelf space at stores.
“We’re looking at any and all forms of inducements,” said Frederick Mahoney, chief investigator for the Massachusetts agency. “This is ongoing, and this may not stop here.” He declined to identify which companies were under investigation.
Pay-to-play can take different forms: Breweries or distributors may pay retailers to stock their beers and not competitors, or retailers can demand concessions from brewers. Free beer, gift cards, and expensive equipment such as draft systems are also commonly used as inducements.The sums involved can vary, from a $20-per-keg charge, to the donation of thousands of dollars of bar or store equipment.
The story also recounts the story from co-owner of Idle Hands Craft Ales LLC Chris Tkach:
Tkach said his company has never paid to have his beer stocked, or was asked to. However, Tkach recounted an incident this year where a bar manager in Waltham said he had no room to stock Idle Hands because a distributor of competing beers had provided free keg equipment in exchange for reserving more tap handles.
“I asked if we could continue to be on tap, and the bar manager said, ‘No, this distributor bought all new [equipment] for us, and we have to dedicate those lines to them,’” said Tkach, who declined to name the bar.
Anyone out there care to relay their own stories in the comments below? Are you seeing this out there?Greg Koch had a perspective in the article. Definitely head to the Boston Globe for the rest of this in-depth feature.