A young woman ended up drunk and lying in her own vomit outside the Braintree Brew House on her birthday last month, a night that led local officials on Tuesday to sanction the Granite Street bar.
The Board of License Commissioners found that the Brew House violated alcohol regulations by serving an intoxicated person and penalized the establishment with a one-day suspension of its license. The penalty will not have to be served if the Brew House avoids problems for the next six months.
An attorney for the Brew House and the chair of the board both argued that there was not enough evidence to prove that a violation occurred.
"I would suggest what we have is circumstantial statements," said Chair Joe Powers, the sole dissenting vote. "We do not have a preponderance of evidence or even sufficient evidence..."
The woman's friends gave conflicting accounts of where and how much she drank on the night of Aug. 17, and no one could say exactly when the group left the bar, or what they may have consumed off-premises, according to police reports.
In addition, the only credit card receipt attached to the group showed just $12.50, which could have been drinks, non-alcoholic beverages or even food, manager Alex Kesaris said.
"He's not in the business of over-serving people," attorney Thomas J. Cavanaugh said of Kesaris. "He wants to provide a safe place for people to come and enjoy themselves."
Sometime between last call at 12:20 a.m. and closing time at 1 a.m., the woman and her friends went out into the parking lot. At that point, she was so drunk that she could not walk and her friends called 911, Officer James Peters said.
The woman, a 21-year-old from Braintree, was eventually transported to South Shore Hospital.
When Peters and Officer David Jordan arrived at the Brew House, the establishment was closed and the staff was unaware of what had been happening in the parking lot, according to their testimony. Kesaris said neither he nor any of his employees remembered seeing the intoxicated woman.
Officer Jordan's report conflicted somewhat with Peters', indicating that the woman's friends told him that she drank a significant amount of alcohol at the bar. Peters said that he was unable to confirm whether or how much she drank inside.
Board member Russell Forsberg, arguing for the violation and at first for a stronger, non-suspended penalty, said that all the information amounted to an "egregious" offense – more serious than other alcohol incidents because of how intoxicated the woman was.
Powers pointed out that the board had no medical evidence and no eyewitness testimony that showed the woman was served at the Brew House while intoxicated. He voted for the suspended one-day penalty to stay consistent with past practice, Powers said, but argued that the state alcohol agency could overturn the board's decision.