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Monday, October 17, 2011

Michigan's new keg tag law

If you have a keg at home, return it to your local retailer by November 1st, 2011 or else forfeit your $30.00 deposit.

By Steve Siciliano

Kafkaesque: of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings; especially: having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality (source).

I’m not sure about “nightmarishly complex” or “bizarre” but what I’m about to address certainly has a somewhat illogical quality to it. Last year the Michigan Legislature passed a law (Public Act 344) which requires that retailers attach an identification tag bearing a buyer’s signature to a keg and not refund the deposit if the keg is returned without the identification tag attached. The intended purpose of this law, which goes into effect November 1, 2011, is to give officials another tool to deal with underage consumption of alcohol—if police crash a keg party where minors are drinking, they will be able to, in theory anyway, identify the person who purchased the beer.

I don’t have a problem with the intent of the law nor do I have a problem with the additional paperwork that will go along with it. What I have a problem with--and this is the Kafkaesque part--is the fact that in two weeks retailers will be required to implement something that they may know nothing about.

I didn’t hear about Public Act 344 until I got a call from Chris Knape from the Grand Rapids Press last Friday.

“What are your thoughts about the new keg tag law?” Chris asked.

“What new keg tag law,” I answered.

My first thought was that I had somehow missed whatever communication it was that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission had sent out to retailers. However, Chris informed me that there was no such communication and that the MLCC is, according to their website, “working with industry groups, social media and news outlets to get the word out on these new requirements” (source).

Okay. As it turns out I was, in effect, informed of the keg tag law through the media. But what if I wasn’t? I’m sure I would have eventually found out through some other source. But wouldn’t it have been logical for the MLCC to send out some sort of mass communication directly to the retailers?

Obviously what we are dealing with here is our state’s poor economic health. Apparently there are no funds for a state agency, in this case the MLCC, to send out a mass mailing and there is no time for an overworked and depleted staff to send out emails. I guess I’ll just have to make a habit in the future of periodically going to the MLCC’s website. Better yet, I should probably make that website my home page.

So how is all this going to impact consumers? Well if you have an untagged keg in your possession you MUST return it before November 1st or else forfeit your $30.00 deposit. Again, according to the MLCC website: “This new requirement was passed and signed into law by Governor Jennifer Granholm, and the requirement says that kegs sold to customers on November 1 and after must have tags on them. In order to return a keg deposit to a customer that returns a keg without a tag, the keg must be returned before November 1, 2011. If you know you have customers who wait to return kegs until they need one, you may wish to notify them of this practice so as to avoid the unpleasant situation of not getting a deposit back” (source).

On second thought, this whole thing might end up having some nightmarishly complex qualities to it after all.

To read Chris Knape's article on Michigan's new keg tag law, please click here.


  1. The problem here, as usual, is the MLCC itself. The entire alcohol distribution system needs an overhaul and a good start would be throwing that entire agency in the trash heap. It's unacceptable in this day and age that they don't have a method of notifying those under their oversight on new laws, regulations, and news in a timely, cost-effective manner. They've already cost the taxpayers money by banning those "bitch" beers and they're going to cost them more when Flying Dog wins their lawsuit.

  2. this sounds like another ill-conceived law like the sudafed one - its going to be more inconvenience to law-abiding citizens than it will be to anyone looking to break the law.

    Moar great idea's from the "won't someone think of the children" crowd.

  3. So it's supposed to be used to better crack down on underage drinking right? So if I'm the idiot who buys a keg for minors all I have to do is charge the little bastards the deposit amount in addition to beer price and then rip the tag off. Now I have an extra keg for my home brew and kegerator.

    I agree with Justice... It's just more hassle for the people who are legally buying one. Yet another face-palm law thought up by non-beer drinkers.

  4. This would be an extreme inconvenience with consequences that they apparently they don't see. The bottom line is this is bad for all brew companies but the Big 3 have enough ground covered on a commercial level that its only going to change their process. As for the rising craft breweries, this may really slam them. After watching beer wars and seeing all the lobbying the big 3 does you would expect them to stand against it, but on that note the industry tactics they use to dominate the industry would only suggest that this law would help them. I hope flying dog is successful, has a resemblance to the dogfish head label lawsuit. Both frivolous and a waste of money all just to try and take the new guys down a peg or two.