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The Michigan Liquor Control System is an ever-changing and complicated “beast”. When it comes to purchasing or using a Michigan liquor license, it can be complex and confusing. We have laid out a few facts regarding Michigan liquor licenses, applying for them, using them, and maintaining them, to help guide you through the thick bramble of laws and guidelines.

Types of Licenses

On-Premise License: These are standard licenses like the ones you might have for a bar, club, hotel, tavern, golf course, airplanes, trains, and a few others. There are numerous types and each one is for a specific purpose and use.

On-Premise Resort License: These include transferable, non-transferable, and economic development resort licenses.

Off-Premise License: These are used by liquor stores, grocery stores, or other places where alcohol can be sold but cannot be consumed on the premises of the building.

Manufacturing Licenses

Here in Kalamazoo we love breweries. Brewpubs and new breweries are opening every year in the city for our enjoyment. Depending on the type of facility you are opening, however, there is a different Michigan liquor license for each.

Brewer: No limit on quantity, and beer can only be sold to wholesalers, or to consumers for off-premise consumption.

Microbrewer: Limitations on quantity of beer produced, in addition to only being able to sell to wholesalers. Consumers can purchase beer for on or off-premise consumption and beer can be sampled on the premises.

Brewpub: These facilities also require an on-premise license as mentioned above for consumption of alcohol on the premises. A full-service restaurant must also be featured on the premises, and they cannot sell to wholesalers or retailers.

There are many other manufacturing licenses, such as for wine makers and sellers, and for spirits, mixed spirits, and distilled alcohol.

The 1/2 Mile Rule

“An application for a new specially designated distributor license or for the transfer of location of an existing specially designated distributor license shall not be approved by the commission if there is an existing specially designated distributor license located within 2,640 feet of the proposed site.”

This is measured by the shortest route between the current license holder and the new proposed location.

Whether you are new to the business of selling or making alcohol or an established business, getting caught in the quagmire of Michigan legislation can be all too easy without an experienced advisor at your side.