"An Act relating to brewery and brewpub licensing and relating to sales of wine by a winery licensee. "
"The Brewers Guild is in support of this bill in its entirety."
- Rep. McGuire
The Brewers Guild of Alaska represents six breweries and five brewpubs operating in the state of Alaska. We are a growing industry that employs hundreds of Alaskans. The Brewers Guild is united in this bill in an effort to foster more equitable competition with breweries and brewpubs from outside of Alaska, while not harming small breweries in Alaska. In the State of Alaska, brewpubs and brewery licenses are exclusive licenses with different competitive markets, although the regular citizen sees no difference in these entities. Both Brewpubs and Brewery Licensees benefit from this bill, but if any of the core content is changed, then there will be an inequitable competitive landscape for either the breweries or the brewpubs.
Brewpubs are legally restricted to sell to consumers for consumption on their licensed premises and, with limitations, to consumers for off-premise consumption and to all other licensees through a distributor. Breweries are legally restricted to sell their product for off-site consumption whether to consumers, wholesalers or other licensees; breweries are also allowed to provide free samples of their product. The proposed legislation is a compromise between these licensees in order to improve the competitive environments of brewpubs and breweries, while not creating a significant impact on the competitive environments of other interested licensees, such as dispensary license owners and distributors.
This legislation increases the amount of beer a brewpub can produce (often referred to as the "production cap") from 150,000 gallons to 465,000 gallons. This cap is based upon the typical industry definition of the top level of production of a "microbrewery." In addition, this legislation increases the amount of beer a brewpub can sell to a licensed wholesaler from 15,000 gallons to 46,500 gallons. Outside brewpubs do not have a cap on the amount of beer they can sell in Alaska.
Current law allows breweries to provide free samples of their products. This legislation allows breweries to also charge for samples as is now common in tasting rooms in other states. Although there have been concerns voiced that this allows breweries to act as "taverns", this legislation includes restrictions that will differentiate the tasting rooms from the "tavern" concept, such as limited on-premise sales of only their beer, restricted hours of operation and a well-defined environment. The sale of samples allows breweries to help defray the costs of on-premise sampling while still providing the promotional and educational aspects of product sampling.
Finally, this legislation allows brewpubs in Anchorage and Fairbanks to self-distribute up to 200 barrels of beer per year. Under current law, brewpubs are required to use a wholesaler to distribute any beer off-premise. However, sales at this level are not necessarily profitable for the wholesaler, so it is difficult for a brewpub to initially get its product to the market. This change could potentially eliminate a competitive advantage to breweries in smaller communities in our state, thus the limitation of a population of 75,000 has been put in place to not harm the smallest of breweries.
The Brewers Guild is in support of this bill in its entirety.