Now this is legislation we can get behind. Most of our local legislative stories lately have been from the South and have been kind of depressing, but legislators up in Nebraska have looked at the growing success of the craft beer industry, looked at the limiting regulations and might be ready to change some things for the better. How much better? How about having an official seat at the political table?
Nebraska State Sen. Tyson Larson introduced Legislative Bill 1105 that would propose to establish a craft brewery board and, maybe more importantly, allow breweries to maintain certain retail operations (tap rooms) beyond the current 20,000-bbl threshold. At the moment, if you a growing, successful brewery and ready to zoom past that mark, you have to shut that retail function down.
From the Omaha World-Herald:
The proposal, which is a priority bill, would overhaul 30-year-old rules that are nearly as old as Larson, the chairman of the Legislature’s General Affairs Committee. Among other things, Larson said, the bill “ensures that our small brewers and businesses have the ability to continue to brew beer as well as keep part of their business model open, if restaurants (or tap rooms) are part of it.”
[Jim Engelbart, Empyrean Brewing’s production manager], who is also vice president of the Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild, said the proposal is “critical” to ensuring continued growth of the state’s brewing industry.
“It is somewhat concerning that we want to put a $5 million-plus investment for a new brewery, but then we have to sell all our pubs off to someone else because we will have grown beyond this artificial limit,” Engelbart said. “Why spend the money to brew at that scale when we have this hammer hanging over our heads that, when it falls, we have to sell 25 percent of our business because we grew too big?”