In craft beer, rules were made to be broken. Unless of course those rules come from lawmakers. Then those rules are meant to be complained about and maybe lobbied against until they change. Most of the brewing regulation noise usually comes from the usual suspects down south — Florida, Georgia, Texas — but this time we head north, to the Big Cheese Head State (that’s the nickname right?). Some brewers, and potential brewers, are calling out what they deem to be a limiting provision passed in the state budget in 2011 that prohibits anyone with a liquor license or operating a retail liquor business from obtaining a brewery permit.
From the Milwaukee Business News:
Because of the law, [Jim McCabe, owner of the Milwaukee Ale House] had to sell his second Milwaukee Ale House location in Grafton. The Third Ward location was exempt because McCabe also brews beer on the premises.
McCabe pointed to a number of breweries across the country that have been successful, in part, because of their ability to also operate a restaurant.
When Justin Aprahamian, chef and owner of Sanford Restaurant, and business partner John Lavelle, wanted to open Like Minds Brewery in mid-2015, they looked at dozens of sites in Milwaukee but were unable to close the deal because of the current law.
Aprahamian and Lavelle ended up opening Like Minds in Chicago.
The article notes that State Rep. Dale Kooyenga has been working with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue to try to change the policy after hearing about the issue.