Massachusetts: Brewhaha Over Small Craft Brewers Put to Rest. Phew.
on 10/08/11 at 11:38 amBeer
The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission looked pretty silly this past week, thanks to an advisory issued on the willy nilly stating that craft brewers holding farmer-brewer licenses must also grow 51 percent of the cereal grains and hops needed to produce their beer. The ruling came about after the state’s only nanobrewery, Idle Hands, applied for its license and was denied — just after licenses for startups Wandering Star, Jack’s Abby, and Mystic Brewery were approved. The 51 percent threshold — which was determined by the ABCC without any prior consultation from farmers or brewers — is nearly impossible to achieve by any of the state’s small breweries and put the proverbial knickers of the craft beer industry and its supporters in an enormous, uncomfortable twist.
And here’s why: Most brewers don’t have the ability or overhead to oversee enough farmland to meet the threshold. Idle Hands, who had a farm share and a hops supply contracted for 1.5 acres of land would have needed 11 acres total to meet the ABCC’s requirement. Furthermore, the only license alternative is a manufacturer’s license, which costs significantly more ($5,000–$7,000 versus the current $22–$100 range for a farmer-brewer license, which is based on production) and doesn’t allow on-site tastings or direct sales to customers. And let’s be honest: who wants to visit Sam Adams or Harpoon if you can’t taste (or buy) the wares? Boo, hiss!