Interview with John "Jack" Cordrey, 2016 February 1

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  • Introduction and background
    Partial Transcript: "I was born in Sussex County... I went to school at Millsboro..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about his personal background. He is a native of Sussex county, Delaware. He talks about his academic background he says that he studied business and then law and worked as an attorney for various parts of the Delaware state government and in private practice.
    Keywords: Alcoholic Beverage Control Comission; Delaware Law School; Delaware State Senate; Delaware Tax Appeal Board; Millsboro, Delaware; Ridgewater College; Wilmington, Delaware
  • Creation of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner position
    Partial Transcript: "The state of Delaware went from a five member commission to a single commissioner."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about the legislative process and the creation of his job in 2001. He talks about how the old five member commission worked and compares and contrasts this to how his current job works. He explains the reasoning behind his job's creation.
    Keywords: Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner; DATE; Delaware; Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Division; Ruth Ann Minner
  • Overview of alcohol regulation in Delaware
    Partial Transcript: "For instance the statutory requirement is that alcohol can be served in a restaurant if a substantial portion of the revenues... come from the sale of complete meals..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey outlines alcohol in the state of Delaware. He also talks about regulations on a national level and how those interact with Delaware's regulations. He compares and contrasts Delaware's system of regulation to regulation in other states, including Pennsylvania.
    Keywords: 21st Amendment; Administrative code; Delaware State Government; laws; licenses; National Conference of State Liquor Administrators; Pennsylvania; regulations; statutes; Title IV; Toward Liquor Control; Trade and Tax Bureau; United States Government
  • Differences in alcoholic control models and the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators
    Partial Transcript: "Well the advantages of a control states is that profits... benefit the state.. for the licensing state... the business.. can do a better job than the state can in adjusting to the marketplace...
    Synopsis: Cordrey explains the differences between states that control alcohol retail and those that license independent businesses. Cordrey also talks about the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators and explains its origin and function. He talks about how the NCSLA helped resolve a dispute about the direct sale and shipping of wine to consumers
    Keywords: 21st Amendment; control; Delaware; licenses; litigation; National Conference of State Liquor Administrators; NCSLA; regulations; Supreme Court; wine
  • The three tiered system of alcohol regulation
    Partial Transcript: "...that you would have a separation of those three tiers, the concern prior to prohibition was many of the breweries had saloons..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey details the three tiered system of alcohol distribution consisting of alcohol manufacturers and suppliers, wholesalers and retailers.
    Keywords: distribution systems; regulations; tiered systems
  • Craft brewing and alcohol regulation in Delaware
    Partial Transcript: "The.. genesis of it all... we started off with farm winery statutes..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey outlines the legal changes in the state of Delaware that helped allow the state's first craft breweries to open in the 1990s. He discusses some key figures in the legalization of small breweries in the state of Delaware. He thinks that allowing small breweries to directly sell their products to consumers has helped them to grow and thrive. He talks about some changes in consumer tastes since the 1990s.
    Keywords: brewpubs; craft brewing; distillation; Dogfish Head; farm wineries; microbreweries; Nassau Valley Vineyards; Sam Calagione; spirits
  • The legislative impact of Sam Calagione
    Partial Transcript:
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about some the legislative changes spearheaded by the founder of Dogfish Head, the first craft brewery located in the state of Delaware. Cordrey talks about Calagione's involvement in legislation to increase the amount of beer craft brewers were allowed to brew in one year, allowing brewpubs to make their own spirits and inviting out of state breweries to Delaware.
    Keywords: beer; legislation; Sam Calagione; spirits
  • The role of regulation in the interests of the industry and the public.
    Partial Transcript: "Well, I'm supposed to make sure alcohol is readily available, but I'm also cognizant of the fact that alcohol is a regulated product, because if misused is a very dangerous product to over use or misuse."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about the role of alcohol regulation and the public good. He talks about his desire to make sure alcohol remains moderately priced and cites an incidence in England where cheap prices helped encourage alcoholism. He says that maintaining a balance in regulation is a delicate process.He also talks about issues in licensing the various businesses that sell alcohol. He also talks about the hearing and penalty process for people who violate alcohol regulations.
    Keywords: alcohol; alcoholism; crimes; Delaware; hearings; legal systems; loss leaders; regulation; United Kingdom; violations
  • Example of a typical licensing process
    Partial Transcript: "When they applied for the license the local person were adamantly opposed to the license..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about a contentious licensing experience where a local town was adamantly opposed to alcohol sales in a particular location. He says that he denied the license, but that the appeal process saw the seller get a license. He says that the business is a good licensee, and describes the business as being responsible.
    Keywords: beer distribution; licenses; Milltown Delaware; Wilmington, Delaware
  • Allowing brewers to distill spirits
    Partial Transcript: "In order to make wine and spirits... you have to have a basic permit that allows you to do these things.." "We added mead and cider as something that a microbrewery could manufacture."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about regulations that allow brewers to distill spirits. He discusses some holes in the system. For example, microbreweries are allowed to make mead while wineries are not. He explains how mead and cider fall in an in-between state where some places regulate them more similarly to beer while others treat them similarly to wine.
    Keywords: beer; cider; distillation; mead; regulations; Sam Calagione; spirits; wine
  • The role of consumers in changing alcohol regulations
    Partial Transcript: "..members of the industry are always trying to help us- dragging us kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, perhaps..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about how the consumer and producers in the industry have driven regulatory change. He talks about how a winery owner helped to drive the drafting of a statute so that mead and cider could be made at a winery under one license, instead of two. He talks about and praises the sense of cooperation that he sees in the craft alcohol industry. He also talks about the financial costs of acquiring and maintaining different kinds of alcohol licenses.
    Keywords: change; consumers; cooperation; costs; craft industries; Delaware; Harvest Ridge Winery; licenses; markets; mead; regulations; tourism; trade associations; wineries
  • Costs of applying for and keeping a license
    Partial Transcript: "...the revenue is about a million and a half every year..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey describes the licensing process as well as its costs. He talks about the different kinds of licenses and the distribution of licenses throughout the state of Delaware.
    Keywords: consumers; costs; Delaware; distributors; excise tax; fees; inflation; licenses; money; regulations; revenue; taxes; variances; wholesalers
  • Staffing at the commissioner's office
    Partial Transcript: "Five, including myself... I have a deputy commissioner..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about his staff. He says that five people work in his office, including himself. He says that there is a deputy commissioner, a paralegal, an inspector and a secretary. He explains each staff members role and responsibilities.
    Keywords: licenses; paralegals; regulations; staffing; work
  • Changes in the fifteen years working as commissioner
    Partial Transcript: "Well, it has blossomed.. currently there are... 27 (craft industries) in the state..." "...we have more than doubled the amount of licensees that we have in that part of the industry..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about how the craft alcohol industry has exploded over his time as commissioner. He says that the number of licensed producers of craft alcohols in Delaware has more than doubled since 2011. He also remarks that some industries, like the craft spirits industry did not exist when he started his job. He says that when he started he thought his job would be boring, he remarks that it is not. He also talks about revising regulations in order to keep them up to date.
    Keywords: craft beer; regulations; rules; statutes; wineries
  • Penalizing rule breakers
    Partial Transcript: "I have everything from a reprimand up to revocation of their license."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about how he punishes regulation violators. He outlines the punishments available to him from reprimands through revoking a business's license. He notes that revoking a business's license only comes after multiple repeats of the same offense in a short window of time.
    Keywords: adjudication; enforcement; fines; regulation; rules
  • The growth of the alcohol industry in Delaware
    Partial Transcript: "I think one of the main things is that Delaware has allowed it to happen..." "If you don't have a statutory framework that allows it to happen, its not gonna happen..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about the explosion in the growth of craft alcohol in Delaware. He says that it has happened because Delaware allowed it to happen. He also remarks that the success of Dogfish Head might have helped inspire other businesses to open up in Delaware. He says that Sam Calagione as a person has also helped create growth as an advocate for craft brewing in Delaware and other states.
    Keywords: alcohol industry; craft brewing; craft industry; Dogfish Head; growth; innovation; microbreweries; regulations; rules; Sam Calagione
  • Clustering of craft brewing in Delaware
    Partial Transcript: "I think it does assist in drawing tourism to our state..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about the high number of breweries per capita in Delaware. He says that he thinks it is good for the tourism industry in Delaware. He says that the breweries tend to be closer to each other than the wineries are.
    Keywords: beer trail; brew pub; craft breweries; microbreweries; wine trail; wineries
  • Regulation and innovation
    Partial Transcript: "We don't want to have a situation where we're prohibiting a brew pub or microbrewery from selling what they make because there is a package store across the street... on the other hand we don't want that package store going out of business.
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about his role in making and enforcing rules as applied to innovation. He says that it his job to try and keep things competitive but not too competitive- for example he says that he does not want a brewpub to struggle because of beer selling competition with a store across the street and vice versa. He also talks about his role in allowing variances in rules in order to help businesses remain competitive and functional. He cites allowing stores in Rehoboth to get alcohol deliveries at different times of the day due to the influx of tourists to the city.
    Keywords: competition; innovation; regulations; Rehoboth, Delaware; rules; statutes; stores
  • Statutory definition of a microbrewery and how to change statutes
    Partial Transcript: "there isn't really a statutory definition of a craft brewery, there is for a microbrewery... you can make beer mead or cider..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey explains the statutory definition of a microbrewery. He explains what it would take to change the statute about what defines a microbrewery. He states that, provided an interested party could demonstrate its public benefits and discuss their idea with him and the General Assembly, they could get a bill drafted and then potentially passed. He also explains how a member of the general public can collect a petition to hold a hearing regarding a license holder's misbehavior. He provides an example of a time when that happened.
    Keywords: beer; bills; cider; craft brewery; Delaware General Assembly; mead; microbrewery; regulations; statutes
  • Considerations when granting a license
    Partial Transcript: "They have to meet the statutory requirements... They have to provide notice... depending on whether they're going to have a patio... or within a quarter mile of water..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about the considerations he makes when a new business applies for a license to operate. He says that they must know and understand the different kinds of rules that apply to the tier that they are applying for. He lists reasons that he may deny a license to an applicant. He talks at length about occasions when licensees have faced challenges in the licensing place from breaking rules, seeking out expansion, and community outcry against the coming of their business.
    Keywords: licenses; regulations; rules; space; water
  • Regulating beer as a food product
    Partial Transcript: "That's sort of above my pay grade..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about regulating beer as a food product. He says that the issue is above his office, but offers his thoughts on the issue as a member of the industry.He talks about how the three tiered system of beer distribution can make it easier for manufacturers to find and track down compromised products if necessary
    Keywords: beer; FDA; food; inspection; NCSLA; quality control; regulations; rules; three tiered system; TTB
  • The dangers of alcohol and regulatory challenges of beverages that do not fit previously established definitions of alcoholic beverages
    Partial Transcript: "There are any number of places...it's currently more in Russia-India area of the world where people are... taking bottles of alcoholic beverages and refilling them with product... made by somebody else..." "Obviously, we don't want people to put beer in a bottle with bacteria growing in it..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about the safety and dangers of alcohol consumption. He talks about the safety regulations and quality controls mandated by the state of Delaware. He talks about the regulation of beer with very high ABV, sometimes above that of wine and the regulatory debates triggered by products like wine coolers and flavored malt beverages which fall in regulatory ground not covered by laws focusing on beer, wine, and spirits.
    Keywords: ABV; alcohol; Alcohol by volume; beer; bootlegging; counterfeit products; flavored malt beverages; injury; NAPCA; NCSLA; quality controls; regulations; safety; spirits; wine; wine coolers
  • Thoughts on the future of alcohol regulation
    Partial Transcript: "I see the industry continuing to grow... I think that many of the entrepreneurs have enjoyed their success... maybe at some point it will be too much of a good thing..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey suggest that the alcohol industry will continue to grow and thrive in the short run but might face challenges in the future. He says that Delaware does not allowing consumers to have out of state wine and spirits shipped directly to their homes, but he thinks that will change as many states already allow that. He is less certain that importation of beer will be allowed.
    Keywords: beer; consumption; Delaware; growth; innovation; regulations; rules; shipping; spirits; wine
  • The regulatory challenges of a state as small as Delaware
    Partial Transcript: "We don't have a statutory prohibition of being able to bring alcohol into our state as long as its not for resale..." "The most that would be unlawful about that is you're not paying the excise tax..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about the regulatory challenges of a state as small as Delaware that borders several other states. He says that Delaware citizens are allowed to transport alcohol into the state for their own use only, but that almost all of them do not pay the excises tax, which is technically required. He says that it is not much of a problem because Delaware's regulatory environment means that there is often greater selection in Delaware than in surrounding states.
    Keywords: Delaware; Maryland; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; regulations
  • Thoughts on a craft brewing bubble
    Partial Transcript: "I don't know the answer to that... we've had fifteen or so craft brewers, brewpubs, and wineries issued in the past five years... that's a substantial amount..."
    Synopsis: Cordrey talks about his thoughts on the existence of a craft brewing bubble. He says that he cannot answer that question but does talk about the high number of recently licensed alcohol producers in the state. He does suggest that given the California wine bubble there might be something similar, but he cannot say when such a thing might happen.
    Keywords: beer; California; craft brewing industry; Delaware; economic bubbles; spirits; wine