How do you like this idea? Your state tells you that your business can only grow so much by law. Is that cool? Oh, you want an example? Here we go: You’re a craft brewery that wants to expand via a brewpub business model (Iron Hill Brewery for instance celebrated its 13th location, heading to Philadelphia, last week). Your growth has been outstanding, you’re creating jobs, you’re providing homegrown “economy,” so you want to start a separate brewpub or maybe seven.
Nope, says LB632 (a bill having its first hearing today). This piece of Nebraska legislation (introduced by Senator Tyson Larson) alters just recently changed provisions related to the Nebraska Liquor Control Act. The bill would prevent craft brewers from opening retail or taprooms off site from where they brew. Right now, the law says brewery expansion locations are to be capped at five separate craft brewery or brewpub premises, which is also dumb, and that privilege was just passed last year. From The Grand Island Independent:
Said Caleb Pollard, President of Scratchtown Brewing Company in Ord: “Just a year later, they are ‘moving the goal post’ by removing some of the provisions from last year’s LB1105.”
Pollard added the bill provision would “curtail investment” for Nebraska brewers and would affect breweries such as Kinkaider Brewery, which announced its plans to expand to downtown Grand Island earlier this week.
Breweries that opened offsite restaurants or bars before Jan. 1, 2017, would be allowed to stay but not expand (wow, that’s thoughtful). Well, we can’t image that lawmakers really want to stifle economic growth, so we have to assume this is either a) a three-tier distributor thing or b) well, there’s no b. Here’s the kicker: The bill would also force distributors to deliver craft beer from the brewery back to their main locations before delivering it to retail locations. What the fuck does that even mean? From the Lincoln Journal Star:
Another part of the bill would require virtually all beer and hard liquor made in Nebraska to stop at a wholesaler’s warehouse before it goes to retail outlets. That would undo a standing Nebraska Liquor Control Commission policy that allows distributors to deliver beer from the state’s far-flung craft brewers directly to their local bars and stores, saving them the round trip to a warehouse along Interstate 80.
These are some pretty amazing ideas, and we gotta say thanks Senator Larson, but no thanks. Craft breweries from Nebraska and CBB want to make everyone aware that this LB632 is a serious economy killer and craft beer killer. There’s a social-media campaign going with hashtag #DontKillOurCraft, and we suggest you get behind it. Nebraska craft breweries all over the state are imploring Nebraskans to write their legislators, and we’ll do the same. Here’s a great post from Empyrean Brewing Co. (located in Lincoln).
The future growth of craft breweries in the State of Nebraska is threatened due to a bill that’s recently been introduced to legislature. LB632 has a lot of good things attached to it. But it also contains some disastrous language that will impact Nebraska craft breweries — including Empyrean — negatively, and in a big way!
During the prior three years, numerous industry groups and legislators worked together to pass LB1105 which deregulated certain aspects of the market to allow craft brewing to grow. And that’s exactly what happened. The Nebraska craft beer industry exploded with new and highly respected brewers opening up across the state. Meanwhile, established breweries expanded and opened new taprooms. These breweries have invested millions of dollars into the local economy and created hundreds of jobs. This is the perfect example of a policy working.
Sadly, LB632 has the power to smother all that. LB632 (aka “the anti-craft beer bill”) goes against the commerce-friendly spirit Nebraska is known for. It was developed in secret, behind closed doors without regard to all parties affected. Furthermore, this bill proposes a licensure freeze which immediately affects two Nebraska craft breweries.
Today, we call on you for help! Please contact your State Senators to express your displeasure with this bill and offer your support of Nebraska Craft beer. Below are some suggestions to use when you contact your Senator (by phone or email).
This bill is a job killer: It will curtail the expansion of the craft beer industry and impair our ability to invest in our communities, in agribusiness that supports our industry, and in manufacturing that supports our work.
This bill was negotiated in secret without the input of industry partners and moved the goalposts established a year ago in LB1105.
This bill strips away existing rights that will likely lead to litigation against the state and impose a liability on the state coffers.
Please join the Empyrean Brewing Co. and fellow Nebraska craft breweries as we take a stand against LB632.
Read the full bill at http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/105/PDF/Intro/LB632.pdf
Find your Senator at http://nebraskalegislature.gov/ (use the search field on the right hand side of the screen).