August 2021 began on a high note for New Hampshire brewers, who saw the signing of SB 125 into law by Governor Sununu on August 5th. The bill allows more flexibility to craft brewers in selling their products directly to consumers by lifting a handful of overly restrictive rules that have been on the books for decades.
The Governor addressed a packed house at Deciduous Brewing in Newmarket, tipping his hat to the many members of the brewing industry from around the state who were in attendance:
“You are all inventors. You are all innovators. You are all entrepreneurs. You’ve created an entire industry!”
He applauded the passing of this bipartisan bill, continuing on to say,
“They built their businesses: our job is to get out of the way and let them thrive and grow.”
As small businesses across the country pivoted their sales strategies to adapt to last year’s quickly changing landscape, New Hampshire brewers were left with their hands tied in many ways due to outdated restrictions. SB 125 addresses some of those restrictions, for example, now allowing craft beverage manufacturers to direct ship to consumers within the state—a service that proved crucial to breweries in neighboring states during last year’s Covid lock-downs. It also lifts the cap on how many cases can be sold to an individual customer (the previous limit was one case of cans per person). It gives beverage manufacturers the right to open one satellite retail location, and clears the way for nano breweries to continue to contract brew at larger beverage manufacturers’ facilities.
While these are certainly changes to be celebrated, NH Brewers Association President Jeff Cozzens told NHPR that there is still significant deregulation needed to level the playing field between NH and its neighboring states:
“I think this industry is still behind when you look at Vermont or Massachusetts of Maine, really across the board… Our goal in the Brewers Association is to eliminate that lack of parity.”
Enjoying the jubilant atmosphere, the Governor found his place behind the bar after signing the legislation. Pouring himself a pint of Deciduous’s delicious porter, he raised a glass to the industry and those who work so hard to keep it moving. An uplifting reminder that beer is bipartisan, and something we can all celebrate!
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