Michigan lawmakers are considering a few pieces of legislation that could change the barrelage threshold for micro brewers in the state and ease up certain restrictions on brewpub expansion and on-premise drinking.
According to this great article on MLive.com:
House Bill 4709 would increase the barrel threshold from 30,000 to 60,000 barrels for micro brewers. HB 4710 would allow brewpubs to have an interest in five other brewpubs if the combined production doesn’t exceed 18,000 barrels of beer per year. Current law restricts it to two additional brewpubs with a total production of 5,000 barrels. HB 4711 allows brewers to sell their beer for on-premise consumption at two brewery locations instead of one.
The article states the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association had been an opponent of prior proposed reforms, but the group has worked to find this common ground with the Michigan Brewers Guild in the hopes of further growing the state’s craft beer scene. The wholesalers association also is open to allowing small start-up breweries to self-distribute their beer, but the group still opposes allowing a sole proprietor the ability to own both a micro brewery and a brewpub. While the two groups have stamped these bills with their approval, they have yet to actually clear the committee and be tabled before the House.
The distributors and brewers had hoped that the House would pass three bipartisan bills before leaving for summer break, but they haven’t yet passed committee. And while some consensus has been reached, disagreements over other regulatory issues may be holding up the process.
Another notable portion of the article on MLive.com focused on the thoughts of Bell’s Brewery Founder Larry Bell:
Bell’s Brewery founder Larry Bell said he’s generally supportive of the bills but wants an amendment that would prohibit microbreweries and brewpubs from transferring beer between locations. He said that would prevent corruption in the industry and maintain the spirit of the law.
Bell said he’s concerned about breweries or large restaurant companies controlling a finite number of liquor licenses and only offering their products at the sites. The Kalamazoo brewer runs the largest craft beer operation in the state and hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with the brewers guild.
What do you think about these proposed changes? Yay or nay? And if any Michigan brewers out there would like to share their story on how the current laws have helped or hurt their business, we’d love to hear it: [email protected]