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Braintree Brewhouse cleared of liquor violation by the state

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  April 17, 2013 10:42 AM

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A Braintree bar facing accusations of overserving a patron has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the state, following a months-long appeal process.

The town initially found Braintree Brewhouse guilty in September of overserving a patron, after a woman allegedly drank heavily throughout an August evening and ended up throwing up outside the establishment.

She was later taken to South Shore Hospital.

Though there was disagreement about whether Braintree's licensing board could prove that the woman drank all the alcohol that had gotten her drunk at the Braintree bar, a majority of board members found the establishment guilty, suspending the bar’s liquor license for one day.

As is customary with many first offenses, the penalty would was suspended if the establishment did not have any other violations for six months.

The ruling was taken to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission at the state shortly thereafter.

After the ABCC handed down its decision in late March clearing the Brainree Brewhouse, the head of Braintree's licensing board said officials now have a better understanding of what evidence will be needed to prove an overserving violation in the future.

“I think what [the members of the ABCC] have done is articulated very clearly the standards that have to be met to be successful in finding a violation of that nature, specifically that an intoxicated person was served,” said Joseph Powers, who is also Braintree's town clerk. “As I said to the board back in September, those standards are very high and it’s incumbent on local licensing authorities to make sure we have that.”

Under the ABCC standards, Powers said, boards have to find concrete evidence that a person was overserved at an establishment, and cannot infer the violation from an intoxicated person being at the premise.

Powers had dissented in the vote to punish the Brewhouse during the board’s initial hearing, saying that he had been part of liquor license hearings in the past that proved the threshold for this kind of offense was higher.

This appeal will offer the same kind of institutional memory to newer members of the licensing board, which in addition to the town clerk, consist of the director of municipal licenses, the police chief, fire chief, and building inspector since the government was changed in 2008.

“I think going forward we did have this as a learning opportunity,” Powers said. “Not the ideal way to go about learning, but what we have now is a very clear standard. Now it’s incumbent on all of us to retain this and keep it as our institutional knowledge going forward.”

The Landing Pub, which has also been found guilty by the town’s board of a similar offense, is also going through an appeal with the ABCC.

Powers wouldn’t speculate on how he anticipated that ruling to go, but said he is confident in how he voted in both the Brewhouse and Landing Pub decision.

“In those two particular instances, there was ample information that led me to have confidence in what I suspected was going to happen,” Powers said.

The board decided in a unanimous vote that the Landing Pub was guilty.

Powers said that he hopes to learn of a hearing date with the establishment in the next two to three weeks.

The Landing Pub filed an appeal of the town’s decision on March 12 after the board found they were at fault in over serving a man celebrating his 21st birthday in a September incident.

The man allegedly got into a fight with his brother outside the pub and police were called to intervene.

In a hearing on Feb. 26, the Braintree Licensing Board found the Pub guilty of over serving the man and levied a two-day liquor license suspension on them.

The suspension was put on hold as soon as the bar appealed the ruling.

Four Square Restaurant and Pub was also found guilty of over serving the same patron the same evening, however they have not appealed the town’s ruling.

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