SevenPack Beer Blog
Dave - August 3, 2011

Firmer stance on “Farmer-Brewery” in MA

Well this certainly is disconcerting news to read. It seems as though the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (the commission of patronage) is taking a firmer stance on “Farmer-Brewery” licenses that will surely put a damper on the recently burgeoning local craft beer industry of Massachusetts.

Though there is another style of brewing license available called “Manufacturer of Wine and Malt Beverages License”, this license does not allow for breweries to self-distribute or do on site brewery tastings (two major pluses for small craft breweries). If a brewery does want to self-distribute they need a second license called a “Wholesaler’s license”. As for on site tasting, I’m not sure there is another license that covers that. Granted this recent firmer stance by the Commission is a great win for distributors in the state, since the new breweries will need to go through said distributors if the breweries can not pony up the cash ($5000) for a wholesaler’s license (the distributors probably had nothing to do with this recent firmer stance). Unfortunately as it stands it looks like the law will need to be updated for either a reinterpretation of “Farmer-Brewery” or a new license devised for self-distribution and tasting, with distributors fighting tooth and nail against (as they have before when dealing with distribution law changes).

The thing is (and this may shock some people, because Massauchesetts is located in the grain belt*), and as a post on Brewbound points out, Massachusetts does not even come close to producing enough malting barley for brewers to meet the “Farmer-Brewery” requirement. I guess if all the local farmers replaced their fresh grown edible produce with malting barley and hops, this might all just work out however. Then again that seems like a rather strange priority to have.

*No it isn’t.