Last Call: New York Bill Would Double State Excise Tax; Indiana Cold Beer Sales Effort to Resume

New York Lawmaker Proposes Doubling State Beer Tax

Manhattan assemblyman Harvey Epstein introduced a bill Monday that would more than double New York’s excise tax on beer from $0.14 per gallon to $0.30 per gallon in an effort to help fund State University of New York and the City University of New York, according to the Times-Herald Record.

According to Epstein’s estimates, the increased tax could generate about $96 million annually and puts the excise tax rate in line with the state’s wine excise tax. In the bill’s legislative memo, Epstein noted that the state’s beer excise tax is the 12th lowest in the nation.

Nevertheless, the bill is likely to struggle for support given Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vocal support for the state’s craft beverage makers. As proof of Cuomo’s backing of the state’s alcohol industry, the governor is expected to push for the Legislature to pass legislation to allow alcohol sales in movie theaters during his State of the State address.

“We are very excited that the governor will be making the alcohol proposal in movie theaters a priority in his State of the State,” Robert Sunshine, executive director of the National Theater Owners of New York State, said in a press release. “With all the competition coming from media and steaming services, it is critical for movie theaters to be able to offer this amenity to its customers.”

Bill Would Allow Cold Beer Sales at Indiana Grocery, Convenience Stores

A bill to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell refrigerated beer has already been filed in Indiana’s state Senate, according to WIBC 93.1 FM. Currently, the state only allows liquor stores and restaurants with to-go sales privileges to sell cold beer.

Indiana’s legislative session starts on January 6.

Although the bill has already been introduced, hope for its passage is dim. Indiana Grocery and Convenience Store Association president Joe Lackey told WIBC that some lawmakers will have to retire before it garners enough support to pass.

“At a time when grocery stores are going out of business all over the state, people are complaining about food deserts, but yet, cold beer would be one of the things that would allow some of those stores to stay open,” Lackey told the outlet.

Although legislation legalizing Sunday sales of alcohol in the state’s grocery, liquor, drug and convenience stores was passed in 2018, an effort to change the cold beer prohibition failed.

Cider Trade Association Changes Name

The United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) is changing its name after eight years to the American Cider Association (ACA), the trade group announced in a press release.

The ACA, which represents U.S. cider and perry makers, also unveiled a new logo, created by graphic designer Randi Karabin of SIP Publishing.

In the release, ACA executive director Michelle McGrath said the new name and look reflect a more aggressive strategy that includes legislative and regulatory reforms.

“We’re doing so much more in D.C. than we were four years ago,” she said. “We’re speaking up for common sense labeling regulations, lobbying for legislation to lower excise taxes, campaigning for the permitted use of harvest dates on cider labels over 7% ABV, pushing for 355 mL as an approved volume of fill, supporting transparency on labels regarding state of origin for apples, and more.”

McGrath added that the old name proved challenging while lobbying congressional members.

“People often found it confusing, and you lost them about halfway through,” she said. “It was long! American Cider Association is much more straightforward.”

According to market research firm Nielsen, total cider off-premise sales declined 3.9% for the 52-week period ending November 30. However, off-premise sales of regional brands increased 15%, while regional market share of dollar sales in the category grew to 34%,up from 29.4% in 2018.

Silver Eagle Distributes 1 Million Cases of Karbach Beer in Houston in 2019

Silver Eagle Distributors Houston LLC distributed more than 1 million cases of beer from Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Karbach Brewing Company in the Houston market in 2019, the wholesaler announced in a press release today.

Houston-based Karbach, which was founded in 2011, self-distributed its beer prior to signing a distribution deal with Silver Eagle in August 2012. The craft brewery was sold to A-B in November 2016, and received regulatory approval of the acquisition in December 2016.

“Our partnership with Silver Eagle Houston started merely seven years ago, and now, we are welcoming 2020 with over one million cases distributed across Houston,” Karbach co-founder Blake Robertson said in the release. “We can’t thank the Silver Eagle Houston team enough for their support each and every day in the market. With our continued partnership and sales execution, we are eager to see what’s on tap for the next decade.”

In 2018, Karbach produced 125,000 barrels of beer, up 23% from 2017 levels, according to the Brewers Association. The brand has grown rapidly since its founding, posting double-digit growth since 2014 (and triple-digit growth in 2013).

In other A-B craft beer news, Breckenridge Brewery’s Christmas Ale is expected to have more than double its barrelage in 2019, while accounting for nearly a quarter of the Colorado craft brewery’s fourth quarter sales to retailers.

The brand has grown 142% over the last three years, posting yearly growth rates of 32%, 28% and 54%, respectively. The brand is bucking negative craft seasonal off-premise trends, which were down 7.7% between the weeks of October 6 and December 1, in multi-outlet and convenience store retailers tracked by IRI.

Breckenridge’s off-premise sales are also up more than 88% through December 1, according to IRI.

C Squared Ciders Exits Denver

C Squared Ciders is leaving its original location in Denver’s River North neighborhood after more than four years and moved its operations 100 miles outside of the city to Penrose, Colorado, the company announced last month.

C Squared co-founder Andy Brown purchased a five-acre site in the rural community, where he also plans to live. He noted that the company can save about $12,000 a month in rent and “pay off our own mortgage instead of someone else’s.” The company also cited a 300% increase in its property taxes since 2015.

“With this move, we can grow our business and create a meaningful connection to the land and local agriculture. We can also help resurrect a vital bygone part of the agriculture economy in Fremont County, which deserves a second chance,” he said.

Co-founder Chad Hatlestad added that the company plans to create “a farmhouse-style destination cidery much like an estate winery.”

Backlash Beer Company Exits Boston Area Taproom

Boston’s Backlash Beer Company has exited its taproom in the Roxbury neighborhood over the holidays, according to an Instagram post.

In the Instagram post announcing the taproom closure, the company said it would continue contract brewing the brand.

“You’ll still be able to find our beer on the shelves of your local beer shop and on draft in Massachusetts, Maine, and beyond,” the company said.

Backlash’s landlord had been advertising the space for rent since midsummer as a ”fully built out brewer/tap room space in Boston.” Backlash, which started producing beer under contract in 2011, opened its $1.5 million brewery in September 2018, behind schedule and $250,000 over its original budget, according to reports.

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