For all of you high-gravity beer lovers out there, there is news about HB400 as it collects dust before a probable early March hearing and then an appearance in the senate.
Brian Smith, of Blackfoot River Brewing Co., has some intimate knowledge of legislative activities from years of working in the leg. Who better to explain the situation.
From a comment left by Brian:
HB400 has passed the Montana House on a 80-20 vote and has been referred to committee in the Senate. It will probably come up for the hearing sometime in the first or second week of March.
The amendment that Don referred to was negotiated by the Department of Revenue and the Montana Brewers Association (MBA). The amendment essentially states that in order for a beer to exceed the 8.75% ABV it must have a fermentable malt base of 75% or greater. The DOR has great concern with high alcohol, inexpensive products in 24 oz cans being marketed in C-stores. The Department was adamantly opposed to HB400 until we crafted this amendment. Essentially, the amendments means only beers that are “almost” all-malt will be able to be sold with a higher alcohol content. The 75% fermentable base was chosen to allow some traditional beer styles such as Belgian, English, & Scottish strong ales that
may use refined sugar or adjuncts such as candy sugar, brewers crystals, brown sugar, etc. as part of the fermentable base.
Please do contact legislators and ask for their support on this bill. In particular, the committee members on the Senate Business, Labor & Economic Affairs.
The MBA’s support is the primary reason this bill is going forward. Our association’s decision to increase our dues by 500% and hire an enthusiastic Executive Director/Lobbyist (Tony Herbert) has been instrumental in gaining support for this bill. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Deb Kottel (D-Great Falls) has been a real champion for this issue as well. Beer drinkers of Montana should be very proud of the job she has done – you should have heard her speech on the House floor – very inspiring!
Visit http://www.montanabrewers.org to see who the Montana craft brewers are who are committed to improving our beer loving community!
Do what he says.
We’ll postpone Olympic coverage for one night in order to bring you a tour of what’s going on at Blackfoot River Brewing Co. in Helena, Montana.
That remains to be seen. What we do know is that the brewery owners will have a chance to participate in a negotiated rulemaking process. This should give them a chance to cut through some of the bureaucracy that has kept them in check for so long.
Here’s what the AP said:
HELENA – The state Revenue Department is backing off a controversial plan to stiffen rules that regulate microbrewery tap rooms.
Revenue Director Dan Bucks met Wednesday with members of the Montana State Brewers Association and agreed to table the proposed rule change.
Brian Smith is head brewer and general manager of Blackfoot River Brewing in Helena. He says Bucks agreed to begin a negotiated rulemaking process with brewers and other interested parties.
The proposed rule would have made it illegal for patrons who buy beer before 8 p.m. to consume it in the tap room after 8 p.m. It drew widespread criticism from brewery owners and craft beer connoisseurs.
Many breweries around the state allow customers who buy beer before the 8 p.m. cutoff to stay in the tap room and finish their pints.
So enjoy that next pint you order at 7:45 p.m. And thank God for the democratic process.