Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rhode Island Beer and Farmer's Markets

Over on the other side of Lug Wrench Brewing, the State of Rhode Island is trying to pass a law that would be a great boon for craft beer brewers and consumers.  The bill (House Bill 7125) was introduced into the state's General Assembly last week which would allow brewpubs to sell the beer they manufacture at farmer's markets. Awesome!  The bill, which is directed at economic development, is offering expanded venues for brewpubs and winegrowers to sell their products. 

There is a discrepancy on how beer and wine are being handles, which irks me.  The proposed bill is very cut and dry for the brewpubs - "brewpub manufacterer's license shall further authorize the sale of beverages manufactured on the (brewpub's) premises at any farmer's market".  However, the winegrowers / farm wineries are getting the same with a little bit of a kicker in the language of the bill - "A wingrower may sell wine or winery retail by the bottle or by the glass for consumption at a farmer's market".  There is no talk about "for consumption" for the brewpub's products (which are called out as typically being sold in growlers).  Could a brewpub bring in a draft system and sell beer by the glass at the farmer's market "for consumption"?  The bill is silent on this, leaving it a bit grey for the beer lovers.

I could grind me teeth about the small details, but if this bill is passed into law, it would certainly bring more good to the craft beer lovers in our state.  If you are a Rhode Island resident and a beer lover (and if you are reading this, you should be!!), contact your local representative and ask for their support on the bill.



"They who drink beer will think beer."
-Washington Irving


  1. My perception is also that the bill targets brewpubs, not breweries. Brewpubs in the state include Trinity, Coddington, Union Station, and Mohegan Cafe and Brewery. Breweries, not targeted under this bill, include Newport Storm and Gray Sail, and also possibly the new Revival venture. That the bill only references brewpubs, and not breweries, limits the potential this bill has for fostering growth in that sector. It's a lot easier to start a small brewery, but then the distribution is difficult. It's a lot harder to start a brewpub, but then you have a place to sell your beer, so it's kind of a paradox.

  2. Tom, I certainly agree with you - having any brewery (brewpub or otherwise) would be the best thing. Assuming this goes though, I will be very interested to see the response from the commercial breweries.

    All that being said, I think everyone would agree that this kind of registration is at least rowing in the right direction.



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