Thursday, August 4, 2011

Massachusetts Lawmakers: Counter Productive

For anyone who reads this blog and enjoys any of the craft beers brewed right here in Massachusetts, you will probably be as steaming mad as I am after reading this article titled "Rule Change Alarms Small Brewers" released today.

Essentially, the Massachusetts legislature is trying to redefine/regulate those brewers in MA that have a Farmer-Brewery license. By definition, those who operate under a farmer-brewery license are required to produce at least 50% of their own grain and hops, or get them from a domestic source (read: a Massachusetts farm). According to the article, around 25 of the state's breweries would be affected by this redefining.

While the revamping of the definition of farmer-brewery is meant to increase and promote the state's agriculture - meaning, adding more farms in the sate, it is INCREDIBLY counter productive. Although the state probably has hundreds or thousands of acres of land suitable for growing barley and hops, one might find it hard to believe that someone will simply open a specialized farm for such a thing. Meanwhile, these small breweries are going to be severely impacted and even forced into closing operations.

What the article points out, and almost all of the brewery tours we've been on indicate, that spent grain from brewing sessions are given to local farms for feed of the animals. Additionally, breweries purchase local fruits and other ingredients to incorporate into their beers.

When asked what the changes in the law would do, Cape Ann Brewing Company's owner Jeremy Goldberg was quoted in the article saying, "We would have a brewery that couldn't serve [beer] on the premises,’’ said Goldberg, who said it could be very hard to get the local liquor license he would need to operate in Gloucester without his farmer-brewery license. “It is going to kill my business.’’

This redefining effort was spurred on after an application request submitted by would be commercial brewery Idle Hands Craft Ales of Everette, MA was discussed during a commission hearing in July. The request was subsequently rejected, leaving Idol Hands Craft Ales in a tough spot while they try to figure out how to get their beer to the market.

Please take a moment to read the article on and show your support by leaving comments here and on our Facebook page.

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