We could have a separate webpage dedicated to New Hampshire beer legislation. Recently, the state passed a law that classifies nanobreweries differently from larger scale beverage makers. Thumbs up! Currently, progressive pot-approving New Hampshire House Representative Chuck Weed is proposing a tax on beer in the great state. Thumbs down. Now, House Bill 275 seeks to create a pilot program to sell New Hampshire craft beer (made from microbreweries and nanobreweries) in New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet stores. Thumbs are all over the place on this one
Rob Cook’s story over at ExeterPatch is a great summary of the bill. He quotes State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, one of the bill’s sponsors: “It’s not for all beers. It’s for our microbreweries, and that’s a very special New Hampshire product, and it is good way to get it known outside of the state.”
The New Hampshire Liquor Commission has some questions. The government agency pointed out the bill’s methodology on markups, which range between 10 to 20 percent on beers, between 40 and 55 percent on wine and between 47 and 50 percent on spirits. The commission has argued that if shelf space in the state liquor stores is lost to New Hampshire-made craft beers, the state may not earn as much money.
It seems the grocer’s association has some questions for the bill as well. According to the New Hampshire Union Leader: “The liquor commission has not had a good history promoting New Hampshire wine,” said New Hampshire Grocers Association president John Dumais. “How effective would they be for nanobreweries?”
In that same article, nicely written by Bill Law last Monday, quotes David Currier, who heads Henniker Brewing Co., which bottled its first batches of beer in January.
“I have mixed emotions about this one,” Currier said. “As a startup, we obviously want to get our product anywhere and everywhere we can, but what will this do for some of the border towns when people don’t have to get off the highway to buy local beer?”
Also, Henniker is classified as a beverage manufacturer, a category larger than nanobreweries or microbreweries, so (like always) there’s some contention about beer definitions as well.
In other, never-ending New Hampshire brew news: House Bill 253 would allow nanobreweries to serve more beer to onsite customers. Thumbs up! Right now, they are legally limited to tastings. They can only sell 4 ounces of each label of beer per customer. House Bill 253 would remove that limit.