In most California cities, opening a brewery is a big, regulatory pain in the ass. But in Anaheim–where four production breweries already reside–it just got a little bit easier thanks to an open-minded mayor that prides itself in upholding the city's "commitment to freedom and limited government."
Like any business in the State where alcohol is involved, opening a new brewery means abiding by not only the rules set in place by the Alcoholic Beverage Control, but also the federal stipulations from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the individual zoning and permitting nightmares for each city–often not written with breweries in mind.
Two weeks ago, however, Anaheim's City Council acted on the recommendation of Mayor Tom Tait's Regulatory Relief Task Force (yes, there is a committee whose sole purpose is to reduce governmental regulations) and eliminated most of the red tape associated with opening a brewery in city limits.
That means scrapping the requirement for conditional use permits and instead creating an entirely new code category for alcohol beverage manufacturers that streamlines permitting for manufacturing as well as tasting rooms in more than 90% of Anaheim's commercial and industrial zones.
The new code category comes with its own set of operational standards (including building size, outdoor space and occupancy), but greatly reduces both time and processing costs for people hoping to open not just breweries, but also cider works, meaderies and small distilled liquor businesses.
Anaheim already has four breweries–Anaheim Brewery, Noble Aleworks, Phantom Ales and Bottle Logic Brewing, the last two of which began brewing late last year–and joins nearby Long Beach, which voted in February to examine its brewing licenses and policies, in looking for ways that cities can capitalize on the economic benefits of the craft beer boom.
Already home to the annual OC Fest of Alesand this year's inaugural Firkfest, Anaheim is using its latest regulation removals to position itself as the most beer-friendly city in Orange County. The city more affectionately known as Anaslime (or Anacrime, depending on your derogatory preference) is poised to become a formidable hub for beer. Huzzah!
Sarah Bennett is a freelance journalist who has spent nearly a decade covering food, music, craft beer, arts, culture and all sorts of bizarro things that interest her for local, regional and national publications.