Brew pub brouhaha at State Capitol

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It’s one of the fastest growing small businesses in the state, and craft brewers say they need the limits on how much brew they can sell to be higher to help them keep growing

A huge crowd jammed into the Legislative Office Building atrium on Thursday. 

Almost all were owners and operators of small businesses involved in selling liquor, wine and beer brewing.

Many came because one of the proposals being discussed by lawmakers would change the amount of beer that craft brewers and brew pubs can sell to customers that want to take some home.

Related Content: Business of craft brewing explodes here in Connecticut

Current law restricts those sales to the equivalent of 19, 16 oz cans or bottles per day. They’d like to sell more.

Mike Tweed owns Black Pond Brewery in Danielson and said, “Raising the direct to consumer sales will allow us to increase revenue in our tap rooms which will, in turn, allow us to invest more in our own companies and grow as a whole.” 

Curt Cameron, who owns the Hooker Breweries in Hartford and Bloomfield, added, “When I started, there was four breweries in the state. There’s over 85 now and there’s another 20 on the books to be started in the near future, and we’ve created an awful lot of jobs in the state.”

But the businesses that distribute the national brands of beers have said they are worried. The more beer the craft brewers can sell, the less will be purchased elsewhere, although local package stores say they’re happy to sell the local beers. 

Related Content: New brewery beer hall opens up in New Haven

Ted Downes of Connecticut Beverage Mart said, “We have 27 Connecticut-owned breweries in our store right now. We’d take them all.”

The distributors are telling lawmakers they are negotiating with the craft brewers to try to find common ground. The two sides had a so-called ‘beer summit’ last week. 

Jude Malone of the Connecticut Wholesalers Association said, “We just need to find the right mixture of what is right for the distributors, for the manufacturers, the retailers, and certainly, the package store.”

The proposal before this committee would allow the craft brewers to sell about two cases of 16 ounce bottles or cans to take home per day.

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