New Law Could Greatly Alter the NH Beer Industry

A beer sampler. [Patch file photo]
A beer sampler. [Patch file photo]
A Hampton state senator is leading the charge behind a new measure that has the potential to dramatically change New Hampshire's craft and small-batch brewing industry.

Sen. Nancy Stiles (R-Hampton), along with a variety of co-sponsors, will seek approval this week for a bill that would establish a tenant brewing system that would allow small beermakers the ability to partner with a larger company or facility to produce and sell greater quantities of their beverages.
The bill would help nanobreweries, microbreweries and beer enthusiasts who don't have the capacity to produce large batches or the space or money to own the machinery required to perform that work, according to Stiles. 

Stiles said the bill would be a win-win for a Granite State industry that has grown substantially and has garnered a lot of support from the state over the past few weeks and the past few years.

"I think it's a great opportunity," she said. "It'll bring people together... and it'll keep the equipment moving in New Hampshire's breweries. Many small brewers don't have the capacity [to expand their business on their own]."  

The tenant brewer bill, which is Senate Bill 310, is scheduled for a Senate Commerce Committee hearing at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16.

While the state would charge tenant brewers a $240 fee for the new type of license should SB310 pass, the financial terms of the partnership would be established between the host facility and tenant brewer, according to the bill.

The tenant brewing idea is one that the federal government already allows, although local brewers see the bill as a chance to expand Granite State companies' ability to take advantage of the opportunity in order to increase their profit margins as well as increase the reach and awareness of all of the talented Granite State companies out there. 

"The bill allows breweries in New Hampshire to make better use of their resources while opening up new business possibilities for our state's blossoming brewing industry," said JT Thompson, the minister of propaganda for Smuttynose Brewing Company, whose new $16 million Hampton headquarters served as the setting for last week's Brew NH announcement. "We may not see a deluge of these relationships right out of the gate (should the legislation pass), but being able to offer another type of business relationship allows all of the state's breweries a chance to grow and diversify their businesses as best they can and that leads to increases in efficiencies, volumes and our state's reputation as a great beer place."

The bill, which would take effect on July 1 if passed, would also allow anyone with a beverage manufacturer license, including brew pubs, to sell on its property or to New Hampshire wholesalers the beverages made by its tenants. 

A tenant brewer would also be "subject to the same requirements regarding production of beer or specialty beer as if the brewer conducted its manufacturing on its own premises independently," according to the proposed bill.

Several area brewers, companies and industry leaders are expected to testify Thursday in favor of the bill, including Smuttynose founder Peter Egelston and Beer Distributors of New Hampshire Executive Director Scott Schaier. 

Click here to read SB 310 in its entirety

Are you in favor of the tenant brewer bill? What do you think it will do for New Hampshire businesses, residents and tourists? Please tell us in the comments below.
Jason Boucher January 14, 2014 at 12:36 PM
Yes. This is a great thing. Let's hope it passes!


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