California’s craft beer industry cleared a few obstacles to its future growth last week when Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law updated rules that will allow independent breweries to expand in communities throughout the state.
AB 2307 raises the limit on brewery growth from six satellite locations to eight, and lifts the cap on how many of those tap rooms can have a full kitchen from two to four. AB 2301 simply allows breweries to distribute to restaurants they own within a five-mile radius. The California Craft Brewers Association has been leading the push to get this done.
“We just want our brewers to feel that the sky’s the limit on what they can achieve,” said Lori Ajax, executive director of the CCBA. “We are grateful that the governor supports these small businesses and signed AB 2301 and AB 2307.”
The brewing industry in California has doubled in the last eight years, and collectively breweries pump billions of dollars into the state’s economy each year. The industry is straining at the seams to meet customer demand for good beer and family-friendly gathering spaces and the legal limit was holding craft beer back.
Fieldwork Brewing Company’s co-founder, Barry Braden, is thrilled to be able to continue providing more great beer and comfortable, airy tap rooms to communities around the Bay Area. Fieldwork’s recent soft-opening in San Leandro was going to be their last for a while if AB 2307, written by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D- Menlo Park), hadn’t been signed.
“San Leandro was our biggest opening ever,” Fieldwork co-founder Barry Braden said. “We believe in meeting customers where they’re at, bringing them a community-centered space with great beer. But we had hit our limit on licenses.”
Similarly, in Sacramento, Urban Roots Brewery’s Peter Hoey is excited that his next restaurant won’t require a distributor. Currently, Urban Roots hires a Concord-based distributor to haul beer from their brewery to the warehouse several counties away, and back to BAWK! By Urban Roots, their fried chicken spot, which sits four-tenths of a mile away from the brewery.
“What’s funny is that we could sell directly to The Shady Lady on one side and Burgers and Brew on the other,” Hoey said, referencing BAWK!’s neighbors. “But we couldn’t sell in the middle because we own it.”
AB 2301, authored by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D- Santa Rosa), simply eliminates the need for that nearly 200 mile ordeal by allowing Urban Roots to distribute their own beer to restaurants they own, which will soon include a reopened local Folsom Blvd. favorite, The Shack.
Both brewers say that the newly-approved legislation will be key in encouraging new local entrepreneurs to open up shop in their communities.
“It’s for the breweries that haven’t even started yet,” Braden said. “It’s for the brewers who are putting pens to paper, planning, and thinking about whether this is something they can make a living doing.”