Zero Gravity fined $770
Zach Despart, Free Press Staff Writer 3:40 p.m. EST January 19, 2016
The Vermont Liquor Control board last week concluded a South End brewery had violated two liquor license regulations and issued $770 in fines.
The board found Zero Gravity Craft Brewing on Pine Street guilty of permitting a staff member to drink while on duty and serving a drink for no charge. Both are prohibited by Vermont’s liquor license regulations.
State liquor control investigator Matt Gonyo testified he observed the violations around 10:40 p.m. on Sept. 26 while on a routine patrol.
From outside the brewery, Gonyo said he watched a bartender drink beer from a glass at the bar. Gonyo said after 15 minutes, he walked to the brewery’s entrance but found the door locked. After he knocked, Gonyo said co-owner Matt Wilson let him in.
Gonyo said he then determined the bartender, Jeff Baumann, was on duty and had been drinking. Liquor board hearing documents state that neither Baumann nor Wilson, who was also drinking at the bar at that time, had paid for their drinks.
Baumann testified before the liquor board that he was drinking beer to test the quality of the product, at the direction of brewery co-owner Paul Sayler.
Sayler testified that Wilson, the other owner, was also drinking beer in part to evaluate the quality of the beverage.
Under state liquor regulations, licensees are permitted to test products by tasting samples. Gonyo, the investigator, concluded that Wilson and Baumann were not merely tasting because they drank from large glasses.
Sayler told the board he requested a hearing not to challenge Gonyo’s allegations, but to seek clarity on how the brewery can lawfully test its product.
The board fined Zero Gravity $510 for permitting Baumann to drink on duty and $260 for allowing Baumann and Wilson to drink free of charge.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Wilson said the brewery looks forward to working with state investigators to avoid violations in the future, and had no further comment.