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Old 08-04-2011, 12:53 PM   #1
rayg
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Default Massachusetts Small Breweries in Trouble?

They have to buy domestic or grow their own now:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44017396...ews-boston_ma/

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Old 08-04-2011, 12:57 PM   #2
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I don't know that much about it, but if you aren't growing much of your own hops or malt...why would you call yourself a farmer-brewer in the first place? Why wouldn't you just be a regular brewery?


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Old 08-04-2011, 12:58 PM   #3
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So wait - MA defined rules that would make breweries using a "farmer brewery" license, you know, actually have to farm? The horror!

Seriously though... That article doesn't make this sound like a bad thing. It sounds like it's only breweries using this specific type of license, and it also sounds like that type of license should carry some kind of qualifying criteria.

I don't see why these folks are saying they'd need to close - shouldn't they just be looking at alternative licensing that's more in line with the business they're actually doing?
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Old 08-04-2011, 12:59 PM   #4
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Sounds like the new rule wasn't very well thought out. Or maybe some BMC tactic to cut some up & coming competition.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:03 PM   #5
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"The law is designed to promote farming in Massachusetts."

Seems pretty clear to me if you're claiming to be a farmer in order to get a particular license, you should actually. . erm. . FARM.

This is like a church applying for tax-exemption but not holding services or promoting religion, but operating a skating rink instead.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:12 PM   #6
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This has devastating and far reaching consequences on existing and start-up breweries in the Bay State.

Under current law, many of the state's small and large breweries are operating under a Farmer-Brewer license - Including Boston Beer Company and Harpoon. This allows for on-site tasting, retail sales, and self distribution. The law, as it's written, does not implicitly lay out the percentages by which one must farm their own ingredients - the ABCC decided to abuse their power and apply and arbitrary statute to the law and it is so short-sited and uninformed that it hurts my brain.

The infrastructure and farm land simply does not exist to support the new rules - Growing grain is one thing - malting it is an entirely different animal. Something has to give or there will be about three breweries left in the state.

The key issue everyone has is this - For many, many years breweries have been operating wonderful, fruitful operations under the Farmer-Brewer license. They have never enforced a % of local ingredients to qualify. Hell, it's not even on the application! This move completely blindsides existing businesses and it's a damn shame.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JetSmooth View Post
"The law is designed to promote farming in Massachusetts."

Seems pretty clear to me if you're claiming to be a farmer in order to get a particular license, you should actually. . erm. . FARM.
I agree with this. The law was initially set up to promote local farming. That is why it exists. It sounds like, over the years, the initial impetus has been lost. But it's unfortunate for those who are being made the first example of rerouting to the original spirit of the law.

I bet that getting a more traditional license in MA is both more expensive and more difficult to get.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stratslinger View Post
So wait - MA defined rules that would make breweries using a "farmer brewery" license, you know, actually have to farm? The horror!

Seriously though... That article doesn't make this sound like a bad thing. It sounds like it's only breweries using this specific type of license, and it also sounds like that type of license should carry some kind of qualifying criteria.

I don't see why these folks are saying they'd need to close - shouldn't they just be looking at alternative licensing that's more in line with the business they're actually doing?
The only other option is a manufacturer's license, which is $4500 a year and forces a small, slim margin brewer to compete with AB for distributor truck space. In other words - they can't.

It also eliminates half of what makes such a business so appealing to both customers and owners - on-site tastings and retail sales.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treehousebrewco View Post
This has devastating and far reaching consequences on existing and start-up breweries in the Bay State.

Under current law, many of the state's small and large breweries are operating under a Farmer-Brewer license - Including Boston Beer Company and Harpoon. This allows for on-site tasting, retail sales, and self distribution. The law, as it's written, does not implicitly lay out the percentages by which one must farm their own ingredients - the ABCC decided to abuse their power and apply and arbitrary statute to the law and it is so short-sited and uninformed that it hurts my brain.

The infrastructure and farm land simply does not exist to support the new rules - Growing grain is one thing - malting it is an entirely different animal. Something has to give or there will be about three breweries left in the state.

The key issue everyone has is this - For many, many years breweries have been operating wonderful, fruitful operations under the Farmer-Brewer license. They have never enforced a % of local ingredients to qualify. Hell, it's not even on the application! This move completely blindsides existing businesses and it's a damn shame.
It sounds like what is necessary is the institution of a new category. Farmer-Brewer should not be applied when there is no farming involved. But I agree that if a new category to cover breweries is not initiated, there will be problems.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ayoungrad View Post
It sounds like what is necessary is the institution of a new category. Farmer-Brewer should not be applied when there is no farming involved. But I agree that if a new category to cover breweries is not initiated, there will be problems.
The idea of a farmer brewer is outrageous in any context. The malting process is highly specialized and requires a significant capital investment. Not only that, but the state is non-fertile ground for barley. 99.9% of it comes from west of the Mississippi.

The law is antiquated desperately needed to be modernized. The term "farmer-brewer" is and always has been a misnomer.


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