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Lawmakers around the country have been taking up various bills that cater to the growing microbrewery industry. Here are some of the efforts:
Two years ago the Texas Legislature authorized craft and small breweries to sell beer that visitors could drink on site. A new bill would further bolster the business by letting customers visiting the brewery buy beer to take home. However, a separate bill this session would cut the number of barrels microbrewers are allowed to self-distribute to restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers from 40,000 barrels per year to 5,000. That effort comes after lawmakers lowered cap from 75,000 annual barrels to 40,000 per year last session.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill Tuesday that allows microbreweries to make up to 6.2 million gallons of beer per year, removing the old limit of 1.2 million gallons. Under the previous rules, companies exceeding the limit were forbidden from operating restaurants. That is an issue for Arizona-based Four Peaks Brewing Company, a growing player in the industry.
Wyoming lawmakers passed legislation in February allowing microbreweries to expand annual production from 15,000 to 50,000 barrels. It allows craft beer makers exceeding that 15,000-barrel limit to continue selling on site and distribute their product themselves. Larger brewers cannot distribute their products in-state.
North Dakota recently passed a law in March allowing microbreweries to have multiple taproom licenses, instead of just one. Microbreweries may produce no more than 25,000 barrels of malt beverages a year combined at all locations. That’s about 50,000 kegs, or 775,000 gallons, of beer.
Montana lawmakers in February defeated a proposal to allow craft brewers with a tasting room to raise production from 10,000 to 60,000 barrels annually. They defeated another bill that would have allowed brewers to own up to three retail licenses.
The Florida Legislature appears poised to pass a bill that would legalize 64-ounce refillable beer jugs or “growlers,” which are legal in most states. Florida already allows quart and gallon growlers, but the popular half-gallon became a pawn in a battle over the complex laws regulating brewing and the sale of beer.
Main lawmakers are poised to pass a bill that’s designed to help small craft breweries grow by allowing them to team up with bigger companies to keep their operating costs down. Under the bill, large breweries would be able to lend their manufacturing space and equipment to as many as nine small companies. Currently, a large brewery can only host one small company.
California, home to Sierra Nevada, has long been friendly to craft breweries, leaving brewers with smaller legislative goals. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last year allowing vendors to sell packaged beer at farmers markets, and a follow-up bill this year would also allow beer tasting. In 2013, Brown signed a bill allowing craft brewers to refill customers’ jugs, known as growlers, while enjoying his own drink at the Track 7 taproom in Sacramento.
A bill to expand the availability of growlers is moving through the Missouri Legislature. The measure would allow convenience and grocery stores to sell growlers, which currently are only found at breweries or specialty bars.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill that allows brewers to give out samples at their breweries. When the law takes effect in June, it will allow many businesses to be able to sell up to four growlers of beer per person per day, including brewers, brewpubs, retailers and bars. Currently, only brewpubs are allowed to sell growlers.
The Georgia House and Senate have passed different versions of a law expanding the state’s tight restrictions on craft beer sales but lawmakers seem unlikely to grant brewers’ request for direct sales. The latest bill, approved by the House and subject to Senate approval, would allow breweries to provide up to 36 ounces in “souvenir” tastings of beer on site or up to 72 ounces to take home but eliminated brewpubs that serve food. The bill also allows liquor distilleries to give take-home bottles as a tour souvenir.
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