Earlier I mentioned that representatives from the ABC Board had expressed some concern about the language of our bill. The Legislative Reference Service is currently crafting a substitute bill to the Brewery Modernization Act that should make everyone happy.

What’s a substitute? An amendment is when you want to make some small change to a bill. A substitute is when you want to change so much that you’d rather just rewrite it from scratch. A substitute, like an amendment, will have to pass a vote on the floor.

How is this going to go down? Probably like this: When our bill is up on the Special Order Calendar, the legislative body (Senate or House) will first vote for a BIR on our original bill. After we’ve passed the BIR, our sponsor will make a motion to substitute our new bill. That will take a majority vote. After that, our new bill can be voted on for final passage. When it passes, it goes to the other chamber.

What are the changes? I’ll post the substitute when it’s available, but here’s the biggest change. In our original legislation, we wanted to remove the distinction between a brewpub and a distributing brewery and combine them into one license that allowed any brewery to sell both on-premises and to retailers (through wholesalers). For various bureaucratic reasons I don’t understand, the ABC didn’t like that.

Don’t fret. Under the substitute, existing and new breweries will be permitted to have on-premise sales and to sell to retailers, and without having to meet arbitrary restrictions about which county it’s in and how old the building is. It will still allow for tours with samples. Here’s how it will work:

  • Level 1: If you want to make beer and sell it to wholesalers, you have to apply for an alcohol manufacturing license. This will be the same license that Good People and Olde Towne have now.
  • Level 2: If you are a brewery with the above license and you want to sell your beer on-premise and have tours with samples and stuff like that, you have to additionally get a brewpub license. This is the license that Montgomery Brewing has now.  The difference is that, under our legislation, a brewery would still have the privileges from the above license. Another difference is that we removed all of the crazy restrictions. It can be located in any wet county or wet municipality, at any location a regular brewery can be in, and is not required to have a restaurant.

So when it comes to what we are fundamentally after, there’s little difference except that a brewery would have to pay two licensing fees if they wanted the on-premise sales. The language of the substitute will make it clear that any brewery, new or old, will have both licenses available to them.