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Beer at the Barbershop (and Salon)

February 10, 2017

By Dan McMenamin, February 10, 2017

Need a haircut but also some hair of the dog?

A new law that just went into effect in California in 2017 has you covered, allowing barbershops and hair salons to now legally serve beer to their customers.

Assembly Bill 1322, authored by Democrat state Assemblyman Tom Daly from Anaheim, allows the businesses to exist in the same loophole in California law that allows for booze in limos or hot air balloons without a state alcoholic beverage license.

Under the law, they can serve up to 12 ounces of beer (or six ounces of wine) to a customer during business hours as late as 10 p.m., with the difference between a salon and saloon being that they can’t charge extra for the beer beyond the cost of the haircut unless they have a beverage license.

Justin Tung / Good Beer HuntingAt J.P. Kempt Barber Social in San Francisco, beer is always in the background.

Drybar, a hair salon chain that started in California but has spread to several other states, reached out to Daly’s office about legislation that would make offering the drinks legal, his spokesman David Miller said.

The idea of beer in a barbershop isn’t new and some shops had already gone legal by getting booze licenses prior to the new legislation passing. Barbeer Shop in Anaheim has a separate bar area where they sell local microbrews on tap and others by bottle or can that people can drink before or after getting a trim.

Shorty Maniace, who runs J.P. Kempt Barber Social in San Francisco and has been featured in GQ and Esquire magazines, said he has been in the barber business for nearly three decades and remembers even when he first started that some shops would offer beer to customers.

“It makes it more of a social atmosphere,” Maniace said. “It’s ‘Hey, thanks for coming on in, it’s been a hard day, here have a beer.’”

It makes it more of a social atmosphere. It’s ‘Hey, thanks for coming on in, it’s been a hard day, here have a beer.'”

“We’re not trying to get them twisted or anything, so they can’t even tell if they got a bad haircut,” he said. “We want them to think, ‘This is a place I can hang out, like it’s my living room.’”

J.P. Kempt keeps a keg of Hill 88 Double IPA from Marin County-based Headlands Brewery Co. in the barbershop and pours it in glasses to people who want it when they come in for their appointment.

Many finish it while they wait, but some take it to the barber chair and take sips during breaks in the 30-minute haircut, Maniace said.

A hazard of having a beer in a barbershop is that there’s quite a bit of hair that comes off of heads and can end up in a drink. Maniace said that happens on occasion, but people usually cover the top of the glass with a coaster, hold it under the cape, or leave it on the counter.

Justin Tung / Good Beer HuntingGotta keep the beer area separate and clean. Hair's everywhere!

The drinks are mostly only offered at high-end barbershops – haircuts are $50 at J.P. Kempt – and are a way of saying “thank you” to customers who come for a luxury experience instead of the $15-type chops at a local chain, he said.

“I think it’s good for the industry, and it’s important to me,” Maniace said. “The quality of our haircuts are high-end, so we like to have a high-end beer for all that.”

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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