With craft beer sales continuing to grow and with the number of breweries up 19 percent last year alone, it can be easy to forget that many craft brewers still face legal impediments to their businesses. The good news is that many antiquated laws governing craft beer production and sales are being changed. But many others are not. And it’s a location-by-location fight.
Minnesota, for example, just changed the law to allow the sale of growlers on Sundays. Breweries still must get approval from their local governments, but at least now they can give it a shot. At the same time, though, the legislature rejected a bill to let liquor stores open on Sunday. Did craft brewers lobby harder than liquor store owners? I don't know, but perhaps the lawmakers, trying to save their constituents from debauchery on a Sunday, are unaware of just how much alcohol craft beer can contain.
Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed a law finally legalizing the 64-ounce growler in his state. The same bill also does away with a wink-wink-nod-nod “tourism” fiction that brewers have had to put up with, the requirement that, to run a taproom, breweries also had to operate “other structures which promote the brewery and the tourist industry of the state.” Oh, okay, you can just sell beer to people who want it. That’s an interesting idea.
Georgia has a new law allowing beer sales at brewpubs. So does New Hampshire. Lawmakers in Louisiana and Oklahoma are considering a bill to allow breweries to sell beer on premises. And in always-organic California, the assembly has passed a bill to allow instructional beer tastings at farmers markets. I like that idea a lot.
The legal wrangling will continue – especially with regard to the rules of distributing beer – but it appears the dominoes are falling. I'll drink to that.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.