This article was written by Local Food Systems Intern, Sarah Schenck.
Craft beer lovers are abuzz about the Arizona Beer Bill in support of the growing local brew industry.
Drafted by the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild and Beer and Wine Distributors of Arizona, the AZ Beer Bill's objective is to "ensure that our breweries and distributors are able to maximize production and profits without compromising the quality of their craft products – something that can only be done through the adoption of new legislation at the state level." [ref: AZBeerBill]
40,000 barrels is the golden number here. Currently, if a craft brewer produces beyond this amount in a year, their legal classification changes from microbrewery to producer. As producers, brewers cannot own and operate off-site restaurants or pubs, which, with consumer demand increasing, renders a question mark on the future status for many of our burgeoning brewery restaurant faves who are quickly approaching the limit.
Without the AZ Beer Bill, it may be farewell to local digs like SanTan Brewing Co and Four Peaks Brewing Co who could be required to forfeit their retail licenses and let go of employees. Radiating the success of the industry, SanTan Brewing Co represents the emerging Arizona brewing scene at large with its remarkable ranking as 14th fastest growing brewery in the country between 2011 and 2012.
There's no doubt about it, Arizonans are peachy (ale) keen on their craft brews. With a gross revenue over $77 million in 2011, craft breweries demonstrate a significant economic impact with local dollars that circulate through Arizona's economy. Between craft brewing and distribution, 3,486 jobs were created across the state in 2012- significant numbers for our recovering economy. Another fact to raise your glass to: a recent study by the Beer Institute found that for every one brewery job, 45 additional jobs are supported.
"From farmers to factory workers, and truck drivers to tavern owners, beer puts people to work."
[ref: Beer Institute]
Opposition to the bill comes primarily from alcohol distributors at the national and local level. Their concerns are on grounds that the AZ Beer Bill will affect the integrity of the three-tier system, the nationally mandated laws regarding designation of brewers, distributors, and retailers. Conversely, the Guild emphasizes the bill will strengthen the three-tier system to benefit both consumers and brewers by encouraging competition and allowing partnerships with independent distributors. In other words, more plentiful beer options for every palate.
If that's something you can hop on board with, show you support by signing the petition.