The text of the Montana Tavern Association's proposed bill to restrict brewery tap room sales (or force them to buy a retail license for $100,000) is now available on the Montana Legislature's website.
HB 616.] Given its length and breadth, it will take time to digest, but it is clear from the outset that there are significant consequences that are not readily apparent. For example, the $100,000 license would not be available to any brewery which opens two years from the effective date of the act. Such a brewery would have to buy one on the open market.
At the bill notes, the amount of beer which may be provided "for consumption in a sample room decreases as beer production increases." But get this, "[b]eer that is sold on the premises for consumption on or off the premises is counted as beer provided in the sample room." Thus, the amount of beer that can be sold in growlers also decreases as production increases, forcing a brewery to decide whether it wants to keep more for patrons to enjoy at the brewery by suspending growler sales.
Perhaps most patronizingly, the bill would add the following language to the "purpose" section: to "provide a mechanism for a brewery to expand marketing of craft beer."
Much more commentary to come.
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