Are they just messing with us?

Thanks to Dawn House at the Salt Lake Tribune for keeping us apprised of the latest nonsense from the DABC.

Recently, a howl of indignation caused this misguided agency to back off its intention to cite restaurants for serving patrons drinks before they ordered food.

Now, a literal reading of the laws has caused them to go after beer flights. Never mind that, according to House, "some Utah brew pubs have been offering them for the past 20 years to customers."

Or that in the 2011 round of legislative fiddling, serving a flight of wine was made legal. Why wine and not beer? Is anyone thinking clearly? Can anyone explain the rationale for these apparently random and contradictory laws?

The craft beer revolution of the past decades has resulted in a whole population of beer connoisseurs–folks who willingly pay much more for a handcrafted brew they can savor. This is not your frat-house, beer-bash, get-drunk-quick-and-cheap mentality; it's a thoughtful appreciation of the brewer's craft. An establishment may have a dozen beers to choose from; tasting a few 3-oz. glasses allows for an informed choice. And Utah, against all odds, has developed a reputation for award-winning craft beers. Uinta, Epic, Squatters, Wasatch, Bohemian–all make great beer and are thriving businesses, and new brews are popping up all the time. Like our snow and scenery, good food and drink are reasons people come to Utah. What doesn't the DABC and the Utah legislature not like about the hospitality industry?

House's story says, "There is even more confusion within the state’s myriad regulations because another law allows each customer to be served up to a liter of beer at a time (33.8 ounces, in no more than two glasses) — which is several ounces more than in an outlawed tray of six to eight small samplers (18 ounces to 24 ounces).

"Now, instead of ordering six two- or three-ounce samples, guests may have to order two 12-ounce glasses to get a taste of what we’re offering," said Joe Lambert, president of Squatters brew pub. "This is contrary to serving alcohol responsibly."

This kind of nit-picking enforcement of poorly written laws does nothing to protect the public from the consequences of over-consumption.

Isn't that what the DABC is for?