Brewers are hopping mad about SB 76

Published: May. 9, 2018 at 6:32 PM AKDT
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Update: Thursday, May 10:

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna,

after the House's provision to limit the number of drinks served by breweries or distilleries.

Original Story:

A bar debate is brewing in the state capital. Brewers and distillers say they're being over-regulated, but bar owners are lobbying for new rules.

Senate Bill 76 was amended recently to include language that would change the amount of alcohol breweries and distilleries can serve to their patrons in their tasting room. If approved, brewers could serve no more than 24 ounces and distillers no more than two ounces.

"We're already so restricted," said Mark Staples, President and founder of Midnight Sun Brewing.

Currently, Staples and other brewers and distillers like him are only allowed to serve 36 ounces to anyone who frequents his tasting room.

"Breweries have a lot of restrictions. We have to close at 8:00," Staples said, "We can only sell up to 36 ounces of beer; only the beer we make, no other televisions or any kind of entertainment whatsoever."

But State Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, has said changes are needed to address Alaska's alcohol issues. He believes that when laws were changed to allow breweries, distilleries and tasting rooms to exist, they weren't designed to be de facto bars.

"If you want to talk about over-drinking, go to a bar and see them serve 10 drinks to somebody," said Staples.

Many of Staples' patrons seem to agree.

"We'll usually drink 2 beers but if we want the choice of drinking a third of fourth, we want to be able to have that choice," customer Terry Pallas said. "I think they're being targeted because they feel they didn't have to pay $200,000-$250,000 for a liquor license and it comes at a lower rate for a microbrewery," he continued.

"Why should they be not able to sell the beer they're making as much as the bar they're selling it to Downtown does?" asked Dave Farmer of Palmer.

The bill is currently in the House Finance Committee and is not scheduled to be voted on as of Wednesday.