As the number of breweries opening continues to grow, so does the competition. Quality of beer, quality of people, and branding are all important factors in helping determine the success of a brewery, and so is creative marketing. Hosting fun events at the brewery is a great way to not only stand out, but to also highly engage with your community. However, the more creative breweries get, the more risk is associated with these events. If your insurance carrier is paying close attention, some of these events may even be specifically excluded on your Liability policy, leaving your brewery exposed if any accidents occur. Athletic or active events, such as running, games, or yoga come with an even higher risk of participant injury. It only takes one serious incident to bring about a potentially large lawsuit.
In order to lessen your risk from any potential lawsuits, we suggest having each event participant sign a participant waiver form or "Prospective Release, Indemnity, & Hold Harmless Agreement." We've drafted up a sample form you can download below, and we encourage you to use it the next time your brewery has an event featuring participants, especially events of a more athletic or physical nature.
Many breweries, wineries, & distilleries have often rent their facilities for use by the public, including birthday parties, work events, reunions, etc. While these are typically good sources of revenue and are also a good public relations tool, they do present additional liability exposures to your business.
For breweries, wineries, & distilleries that lease their facilities to others, we recommend the use of a contract which details the terms and conditions of the rental and also provides that the lessee/rental party will hold the distillery harmless in the event of injury or other damages related to the use of the premises. When reviewing Rental Agreements, many contracts are not appropriately worded with needed protection or are incorrectly completed, often with provided spaces left blank. This document offers risk management guidelines to assist your organization in reducing your liability exposure. A sample rental contract is included with a hold harmless agreement that may be used in whole or as an example for your organization. Whether you use the sample agreement or develop your own, you should have it reviewed by an attorney. If you choose to create your own form, consider including the following points:
Any forms/contracts should be reviewed by an attorney for compliance with local laws and suitability to the particular needs of the organization involved. Once developed, the contract should be used for all rentals, even if the distillery is being used gratis or by a member. A copy of the contract should be given to the lessee and the original kept on file.