Bill To Let Craft Breweries Grow Hits A Snag

Apr 20, 2017

Four Republicans introduced a measure last month seeking to raise the limit to 200,000 barrels. But the proposal has hit a snag.
Credit Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr, Creative Commons

Lawmakers are abandoning efforts to increase the self-distribution limit for craft brewers.

A proposal at the General Assembly would have helped three breweries which are at, or very close to, the 25,000 barrel-a-year cap. Once at the threshold, beer makers are required by law to use a distributor.

Four Republicans introduced a measure last month seeking to raise the limit to 200,000 barrels. Craft brewers across the state have been lobbying for an increase in the amount of beer they can self distribute. Their argument centers on free enterprise, supporting small business and removing government regulations.

Moving away from the proposal to increase the cap has disappointed some, including Becki Gray, of the conservative John Locke Foundation.

“It is extremely disappointing coming from people who have claimed to be supportive of free markets, of entrepreneurship, of wanting to encourage those kind of things. It’s just very disappointing.”

The Beer and Wine wholesalers successfully fought the proposal. That lobby is concerned about becoming obsolete. The beer and wine wholesalers represents 30 family-owned distributors across the state. It has a well-entrenched political presence and has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to legislative political campaigns in recent years.

“I think this is a positive step today, and the direction we are hoping for,” said Tim Kent, a lobbyist with the organization. “Still some work that needs to be done on House Bill 500.”