The House Business and Labor Committee voted to table HB 185, the bill to extend taproom hours to 10 p.m., during a morning meeting on February 8. Rep. Ed Buttrey (R-Great Falls) made a motion to table as soon as the committee took up the bill during executive action. The table motion passed on a 16-3 vote without any discussion and without an up or down vote on the bill itself.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Fern (D-Whitefish), drew a crowd of supporters for the hearing just three days prior. Erik Somerfeld, a barley grower and Montana Farmers Union board member, Ryan Pfeifle, Farm Power Malt, and Jake TeSelle, Crooked Yard Hops, joined several brewers in providing testimony supporting HB 185. Legislators on the committee also received hundreds of calls and emails from constituents leading up to and following the hearing. In spite of the strong support at the hearing and with the public support behind extending hours to 10 p.m., committee members sided with opponents.
The Montana Tavern Association, Montana Restaurants Association and the Gaming Industry Association of Montana all opposed the bill citing negative impacts to bars and restaurants. Those groups all represent members who own a liquor license, and their interest in this issue is to protect the value of those liquor licenses. The Montana Beer and Wine Distributors Association also opposed HB 185 on grounds that increased taproom sales would eat into their volume – essentially resulting in less beer on their delivery trucks.
Opponents to the bill view beer sales as a fixed pie and believe any gains by breweries means taking more of their piece of the pie. Of the approximately 200,000 barrels of beer produced in Montana annually, around 35,000 is served in brewery taprooms. The rest of that beer is distributed to bars, restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores across Montana and beyond. But that’s just the beer produced right here in Montana. Total beer sold in Montana, including beer brought into the state from the large breweries and out-of-state craft breweries, is just shy of 1 million barrels annually. Thus, taproom sales at Montana breweries constitute less than 4 percent of the beer sold in Montana.
More importantly, increasing the hours to 10 p.m. would provide more revenue for breweries to reinvest back into their businesses, to do things like purchase a canning line or invest in an expansion. This is about more than just a couple extra hours to enjoy a pint in a taproom. This is about fueling growth in Montana’s craft brewing industry, and that’s good for jobs and Montana’s economy.
“The success of our taproom in downtown Philipsburg enabled us to expand into a second production facility, purchase a canning line, get into statewide distribution and employ more staff,” says Nolan Smith, Co-owner of Philipsburg Brewing Company. “We were able to bring manufacturing jobs back to our community.”
Craft breweries have become a serious economic engine in our state. Montana breweries engage in and support our state’s two biggest industries, agriculture and tourism, and comprise a significant portion of Montana’s manufacturing sector. The 84 breweries in Montana have brought manufacturing jobs to 45 communities across our state.
Growth in this industry has also created opportunity for new businesses like Montana Craft Malt. Their $15 million facility in Butte, capable of producing 10,000 tons of malt barley each year, will begin production this spring to supply local breweries and breweries around the country with high-quality craft malt from Montana.
“Craft malt, much like Montana craft beer, is a value added product that can help strengthen Montana’s economy,” says Jennifer O’Brien, president of Montana Craft Malt. “Passing HB 185 will be a boost to Montana craft brewers as well as businesses like ours that are built on the foundation established by our craft brewing industry.”
The debate around HB 185 comes down to two very different visions. Opponents see the beer world in terms of scarcity and seek to hold on to what they have. Meanwhile, supporters see opportunity through entrepreneurship, innovation and creative partnerships to grow Montana’s craft brewing industry along with the other industries we touch.
HB 185 is currently tabled in committee and will likely die if the House does not act on the bill by the transmittal deadline of March 2.
On November 8th, 2018, a small fire started in the hills above Chico, California. This blaze went on to become the Camp Fire, the most destructive fire in the history of California. Over 150,000 acres were burned, 13,000 homes destroyed, and billions of dollars worth of infrastructure damaged in the blaze. Sadly, 85 people lost their lives.
The employees of Sierra Nevada, who’s original brewery is located in Chico, saw friends, family, co-workers, and community members’ lives being destroyed in the days and weeks that followed the initial spark. So they decided to take action doing what they know best – brewing beer. They hatched the idea of doing a special release beer, Resilience IPA, and donating 100% of the sales to the Camp Fire Relief Fund. But they didn’t stop there
Sierra Nevada reached out to brewing community, asking them to make their own Resilience IPA, and donate the to cause. They partnered with hops and malt growers to provide the raw ingredients to breweries who would be willing to brew the beer and donate all of the profits to those affected by the fire. The craft brewing world answered the call big time.
Over 1,400 breweries across the country got involved, each brewing their own Resilience IPA. Breweries from far and wide joined the cause, including Ambridge Brewery located in Inkberrow, England. Sierra Nevada even released a scaled down recipe, calling on homebrewers to brew Resilience IPA in solidarity with those affected. Participating retailers and wholesalers agreed to carry the IPA and donate every dollar they made. All together, with the help of countrywide events like “Resilience Night”, these breweries brewed over 4 million pints of Resilience, raising tens of millions of dollars for the Camp Fire Relief Fund.
The story of Resilience IPA is a story of community. Separated by miles but united by a love of beer and worthy cause, the craft brewing community came together to help the people of Butte county, California. We are proud of all of the breweries in Big Sky country who helped make a difference in the lives of those recovering from such a tragedy. Here’s a shout out to the Montana breweries that brewed over 27,000 pints of Resilience IPA:
We are again pleased to announce our sponsorship of the third annual Bozeman Craft Beer Week, and for the third year in a row we’ll celebrate Bozeman Craft Beer Week by holding our Spring Rendezvous as part of the week’s events. This awesome, eight-day event is hosted by our good friends at Fermentana, who organize events focused on using craft beverages like beer as social tools for positive community impact.
This year, twenty different events focusing on craft beer and community outreach will be hosted all across Bozeman and Belgrade, with a portion of the profits going to the Bozeman Area Community Foundation (BACF). The BACF is a local grown organization dedicated to helping the communities of Bozeman, Big Sky, Belgrade, Manhattan, Churchill, Three Forks, and the rural areas in between.
“Beer isn’t just beer. Beer brings us closer together. It helps us build community. The establishments where beer is born are focal points of the communities they serve. By partnering with BACF and incorporating their mission into our event’s theme, we’re not only able to celebrate local craft beer and our breweries, but we’re also able to use beer as a tool to connect people with the causes they champion and build a stronger community in the process.”
For the second year in a row, local breweries are working together on a collaboration beer. Twelve breweries are in on the effort and will be brewing the beer at Outlaw Brewing. The collaboration beer will be available on draft and in cans around Bozeman in early May with the proceeds from its sale donated to BACF.
Bozeman Craft Beer Week 2019 will run May 4th-11th at locations in Bozeman and Belgrade. The Montana Brewers Spring Rendezvous will take place at Haynes Pavilion in Bozeman on May 11th.
For more information, go to http://www.bozemancraftbeerweek.com/
Our 2018 Raffle was a hit! On Friday, January 11th, we all gathered at the KettleHouse Taproom in Bonner for our annual raffle drawing. With some help from Adam from Sherpa Trailers, our Executive Director Matt drew the winners of our awesome lineup of prizes. Congrats to the winners!
We wanted to give a special shout out to the KettleHouse crew for letting us host the event at brand new K3 taproom in Bonner. Thank you to all who participated, we will see you again next year!
Grand Prize: Custom Montana Sherpa Offroad Camper Trailer
Winner receives the ultimate custom adventure trailer – A state of the art Offroad Sherpa Trailer with roof rack, foxwing awning, stereo, TV, solar power system, and more great features. (Image does not show all included features)
1st Prize: NRS Inflatable Kayak
Winner receives NRS Inflatable Kayak, paddle, and pump.
2nd Prize: Fly Rod & Guided Fishing Trip
Winner receives 5 weight Sage fly rod (reel and line included), and a guided trip for two from CrossCurrents Fly Shop on either the Missouri, “Land of the Giants,” Blackfoot or Dearborn
3rd Prize: Concert Tickets to KettleHouse Amphitheater
Winner receives a $700 gift certificate from Logjam, good for tickets, food or drinks at the Top Hat, Wilma, and KettleHouse Amphitheater.
4th Prize: Yeti Cooler Filled With MT Beer
Winner receives Yeti Tundra 75 cooler filled with Montana craft beer!
Tickets are $100 each and include a Montana Brew Crew Membership (Brew Crew Card entitles you to a free beer at 35 breweries). Funds support the MBA’s work to promote Montana craft beer and create a regulatory environment that allows Montana’s craft brewing industry to flourish.
Tickets are limited and can only be purchased at an MBA member brewery.