How do bars decide which beer brands go on the shelf or on tap?

Companies are offering gifts or bar equipment

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The practice known as “pay to play” is illegal under state and federal laws, but determining which brands are carried largely depends on the demand and wholesale price.

Subpoenas have been issued by the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission to several breweries, distributors, and retailers for records to determine whether they are paying for, or demanding payments for, access to taps, and shelf space.

In exchange, companies are offering gifts or bar equipment. 22News spoke with a new local brewery company that says they’ve encountered retailers that will not carry their product because of the deals they already have with larger competitors.

Eric Berzins of the Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton said, “They get some free stuff you know they get tickets and promotional items and unfortunately we can’t be giving away free stuff right now. We’re just a new brewery we started up 8 weeks ago and we’re focusing on our product.”

The ABCC has not released a list of the companies that have received subpoenas. Punishments for “pay to play” ranges from a warning to a suspension of a liquor license.

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