Microbrews push for beer-friendly law

Microbrews push for beer-friendly law

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - You might not think beer and jobs go hand-in-hand, but it's happening here in Arizona.

A new bill in the legislature would de-regulate part of the microbrewing industry. Proponents say it would help save hundreds of jobs and even create more.

Senate Bill 1030, also known as the 'beer bill,' has a lot of support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. It allows microbreweries to have the option of creating more barrels of beer without having to give up a lot in return.

For many, there's nothing like a freshly poured pint of locally brewed beer. Steve Tracy started Thunder Canyon Brewery nearly 18 years ago.

"They're growing like crazy. We opened in 1997. There were only three breweries in Tucson, now we've got nine or 10 in the area. And the same is going state-wide," Tracy said.

Last year, TCB made 2,025 barrels of craft beer. Tracy said he's seen consumer taste grow as well.

"Nobody knew what an India Pale Ale was; you couldn't give one away. Now it's our most popular style," he said.

Under the current law, a microbrewer can create up to 40,000 barrels of beer a year. If they make more, they are put into the producer category. In turn, brewers may be forced to give up their retail licenses for their restaurants and brew pubs.

"I don't think this makes sense. That's why we're trying to fight this," said Tristan White of Tucson-based Dragoon Brewing Company.

White is also on the board of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild. He said microbreweries are adding a lot to the Arizona economy.

The Guild says microbrews had a $664 million impact on Arizona's economy and created nearly 3,500 jobs in 2012.

"We're less than three years old and we went from having two employees and last week we just hired our 14th employee," White said.

The Guild says two big-name microbreweries in Arizona, Four Peaks and San Tan Brewery, are facing that problem head-on. They say if the law isn't changed at least 200 jobs could be lost.

"Create jobs in Arizona, create revenue that stays in Arizona, trying to do what's good for Arizona," Tracy said.

The Arizona Wine and Spirit Wholesale Association is a group made of three distributors are against this bill saying it could affect the integrity of the current microbrew system.

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