West Virginia lawmakers passed a bill this weekend to ease a number of regulatory and financial burdens on the state’s craft brewers.
Pending Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s signature, Senate Bill 273 will enable brewers to provide on-premise samples, ease limits on growler sales, and implement a gradual licensing fee system for brewers, eliminating the current flat rate.
Specifically, the bill would allow for brewers to provide up to 10 complimentary 2 oz. samples to any one patron per day.
It also doubles the limit on the number of growlers a brewery or brewpub can sell to one customer for off-premise consumption from two to four.
Further, the bill will do away with the one-size-fits-all license fee of $1,500 and utilize a measured approach instead. For brewers that produce 12,500 barrels or less, the fee would be reduced to $500 for each manufacturing facility. Brewers that produce between 12,501 and 25,000 barrels will pay a $1,000 fee on each facility. Once across that 25,000-barrel threshold, the fee will top out at $1,500.
The bipartisan effort supports a recent promise from Gov. Tomblin to create a more craft beer friendly environment in the state. During his State of the State address in January, Gov. Tomblin specifically spoke of the state’s homegrown craft brewing industry while highlighting the need to foster innovation and entrepreneurialism.
At the time, he said he intended to propose legislation to provide the state’s craft brewers with “increased opportunities to succeed,” though he didn’t divulge any exact details of how to provide those breaks.
A spokeswoman with the governor’s office told Brewbound today the bill has yet to arrive at the governor’s desk where it will be reviewed before signature.