Craft Brewers in Wisconsin Earn Hard-Fought Victory

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Wisconsin SB 268 To Be Signed by Governor Tony Evers on Dec. 6

The state of Wisconsin in November passed important legislation that included key items for the state’s craft brewers, the result of nearly a decade of negotiations with every segment of the beverage alcohol industry. Governor Tony Evers will sign the bill into law on Dec. 6 in his office.

Senate Bill 268 covered a lot of ground, allowing brewers up to four full-service retail locations (including their production facility) from which they can sell products to consumers, dependent on their annual production. This incentivizes growth, product introduction into other regions of the state, and extends tourism dollars for Wisconsin.

This bill also provides more clarity by aligning state law with federal law around the various types of contract brewing operations, often a gateway to successful brewing businesses for startup brewers before it makes financial sense to expend for a brick-and-mortar location. This change mirrors federal standards and will make an immediate impact for Wisconsin brewers.

“Codifying existing trade practice to match federal code was a key component to making sure Wisconsin’s brewers weren’t held back by state law from competing in and out of state,” said Will Glass, president of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild. “After years of Wisconsin’s brewers systematically losing our rights and privileges, we’re excited to deliver significant reforms to Wisconsin’s system of alcohol regulation.”

Finally, this bill includes various changes to improve alcoholic beverage regulations in the state, strengthening the existing system of beverage alcohol control with a new division that will be focused full time on promoting and regulating Wisconsin beer, wine, and spirits.

Wisconsin, seventh in the nation in the size of craft brewing operations, with over one million barrels of beer made by small, independent brewers, will benefit from the passage of this bill. This commonsense legislation will help brewers innovate and expand to build a better status quo for all.

“It’s been a hard-fought effort working with industry members with whom we don’t see eye to eye,” said Glass, “But we were able to put many differences aside to accomplish compromise. We look forward to seeing our members flourish in an ever-changing marketplace with the freedom to give their customers what they want.”

“The Brewers Association worked closely with the Wisconsin Brewers Guild to lobby and testify for passage of this bill and we were honored to lend a hand,” said Sam DeWitt, state government affairs manager for the Brewers Association. “We’re grateful for the work by the state legislature to get this done, and thankful for Governor Evers’ dedication to small and independent businesses in Wisconsin.”