Massachusetts State Senator Robert Hedlund Files Legislation Protecting Small Brewers

Massachusetts Brewers GuildBOSTON, MA – In an attempt to protect the states craft brewers, State Sen., Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), filed new legislation which he hopes will offer an alternative to the existing farmer-brewery license.

“I would hope this helps create momentum for the State Treasurer to adopt some form of legislation,” said Hedlund. “We hope that he will act soon and administratively enact some regulations to help small brewers and allow Idle Hands to proceed with their opening.”

The legislation proposed by Hedlund strips the word “farmer” from the language, and replaces it instead with the word “craft.”

The same graduating fee structure detailed in the farmer-brewery license, with respect to barrel production, is used. Under this filing, brewers would also retain the rights to self-distribution and on-premise retail sales at their brewery facilities.

Sen. Hedlund is also the Co-Owner of Four Square, a restaurant and bar in Braintree. Hedlund said he carries many local craft beer offerings, including Cape Ann Brewing – one of the farmer-brewers affected by the recent ABCC advisory.

A press release generated by Senator Hedlund’s office is below.

Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) responding to a recent advisory from the Alcoholic Brevages Control Commission (ABCC) has filed legislation protecting Massachusetts brewers.

The advisory sent August 1st, explains the ABCC interpretation of Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) chapter 138, §19C which indentifies farm-brewers. In its decision, the Commission held that each applicant for a Farmer-Brewery license must document that it grows cereal grains or hops of at least 50%, in the aggregate, of the quantity of cereal grains and hops needed to produce the gallonage of malt beverages estimated to be produced by the applicant during the license term.

The interpretation by ABCC appears as an attempt to force small brewers to obtain the more complicated manufacturer’s license, which also cost far more than the “Farm-Brewer” License.

“At a time when industries are struggling, forcing small brewers to obtain high cost licenses seems counter-productive,” said Senator Hedlund, “what we should be doing is creating a streamlined licensing process using these low cost licenses as an incentive and actually grow an industry in Massachusetts as opposed to destroying one.”

The legislation filed by Hedlund, Senate Docket 2072, filed August 4th, creates a new license in the alcoholic manufactures license law for craft brewers. Brewers still have the option of operating under newly interpreted “Farm-Brewer” definition or utilize the new craft beer license the legislation creates. Rather than paying the $6,000 – $10,000 for a manufactures license, this new license makes it affordable for craft brewers producing less than 200,000 barrels per year. The legislation also protects the self- distribution and retail sales components of the “Farm Brewer” business model.

Craft Brewers producing less than 5,000 barrels pay a fee of $22
Craft Brewers producing 5,000 barrels to 20,000 barrels pay a fee of $44
Craft Brewers producing 20,000 barrels to 100,000 barrels pay a fee of $82
Craft Brewers producing 100,000 to 200,000 barrels pay a fee of $110

With 28 members of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and breweries ranging in size from Harpoon, to Idle Hands the legislation could be a means of attracting even more brewers to Massachusetts and employing even more Massachusetts residents.

“Craft brewers already must deal with many disadvantages, from our archaic regulatory structure to the outdated 3 tiered distribution rules to competition from international conglomerate brewers. We should be creating incentives to promote this industry not hamstring it,” said Senator Hedlund.

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