Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Massachusetts Farmer/Small Brewery rule change proposal fizzes out

A rule change proposed by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) that would have required small breweries that operate under the little known farmer-brewery license, to grow at least half the hops and grains they use, or get them from a domestic source, has been capped…for now, at least.

While the intent of the ABCC to promote increased farming was well-intentioned, it neglected to foresee the serious impact it would have created on small brewers across the state.

Small brewers would welcome more locally grown hops, barley and wheat into the their brew kettles, but forcing them to use ingredients that really don’t exist in sufficient quantities yet would have had devastating consequences.

While hops can be grown in parts of Massachusetts, the climate is not ideal to grow the varieties and quantities desired by small, micro and craft brewers. Barley? There are no significant barley growers in the state. Brewers, large and small need to import nearly all of their barley and/or wheat to brew a decent beer.

New England master brewer, Matthew P. Steinberg reacted to the news; “This is excellent news. Though, I feel the Farmer/Brewer license has merit and is a great idea to grow farming in MA. and if new farm/breweries could use this license to their competitive advantage, then great! It is worth the ABCC's time and energy to look into a third licensing option for the present holders of this license that will allow them to continue to do business as usual.

State Treasurer, Steven Grossman (D) said on Monday that the ABCC would hold a series of public meetings to solicit comments from the public and small brewers.

It’s refreshing to me in these frustrating, politically-charged times to find that common sense has prevailed. So today I raise a glass of fresh New England beer to “reason and sanity”.


Quote: “Beer is the cause of all radical pot-politics that men talk over it” – Otto Van Bismarck – 1815-1898

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