Brewer taprooms and other expanded retail sales rights, plus self-distribution and other cross-tier exceptions, are especially hot topics playing out in state legislatures across US. Some view expanded privileges as modernization, maturation and/or evolution; others call it deregulation and threat to traditional separation of tiers, not to mention path to same tied house abuses that led to Prohibition. Panel at NCSLA mtg provided perspective from 2 regulators, distrib advocate and craft brewer.
“Why Not Let them Expand?” “Should They Be Punished for their Success?” These two questions asked by regulators John Cordrey (Delaware) and Rick Garza (Washington), voicing response of state legislators when issue of extending retail rights and raising caps for in-state craft brewers comes up. Both noted strong political support enjoyed by those craft players in their states. Rick acknowledged growing concern about how to ensure compliance by so many craft players (WA has 900 wineries, hundreds of craft brewers and one of highest number of craft distillers in US). But he did not seem terribly alarmed by that challenge and does not subscribe to notion that hybrid licenses “out of control.” That’s even while “it feels like” there are more hybrid licenses (mix of producer, distrib and retail) in WA now than traditional licenses. But Rick’s agency also has (many) more resources and staff than most in US, he acknowledged. John spoke to widespread embrace of tourism biz and local $$ generated by specifically Dogfish Head and other craft producers in DE. Pike’s Peak founder Chris Wright didn’t have to voice popularity of craft brewers in his state. Meeting was in Denver, after all.