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COLUMN: Brewing up a better environment for Michigan’s craft beer industry
RELEASE|February 12, 2020
Contact: Graham Filler

Looking Glass Brewing Co. has been an incredible addition to downtown DeWitt since it opened its doors in 2018. Its broad appeal is great for our community, drawing more people downtown to eat, drink and visit other small businesses nearby.

Microbreweries like Looking Glass have been key in bringing development back to small towns across Michigan. In fact, the craft beer industry is one of the fastest growing contributors to our state economy – supporting more than 17,000 full-time jobs, with a total economic impact of more than $2.4 billion, according to the Michigan Brewers Guild.

Craft beer has become so popular that many of our craft breweries are now running into a production wall caused by government regulations. That’s because current state law only allows brewers to self-distribute up to 1,000 barrels of their product – including anything they serve to customers by the glass in their taprooms. Once brewers hit the self-distribution limit, state law requires them to contract with a wholesaler for distribution.

To cultivate an economic climate that allows Michigan’s craft breweries to grow and provide even more employment opportunities, I helped introduce a plan that would double the number of barrels brewers may self-distribute from 1,000 to 2,000. In addition, it would no longer count on-premises sales from a brewery’s taproom when calculating the limit.

Other pieces of the plan make regulatory reforms to improve the stability of the state’s distribution system for beer and wine. For example, my legislation prevents manufacturers from using loopholes in contracts to switch distributors.

These reforms will give craft breweries the flexibility they need to determine whether they have a successful product and then grow to a point where signing a distribution contract makes sense.

There’s no doubt Michigan’s craft beer industry is thriving, but we also must make sure small breweries aren’t held back by burdensome government regulations. This plan gives our local breweries the tools they need to continue to grow, so more small Michigan communities can experience the boost DeWitt has enjoyed since Looking Glass Brewing opened its doors.

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State Rep. Graham Filler of DeWitt is serving his first term in the Michigan House representing residents of Gratiot and Clinton counties. A former assistant attorney general, he now serves as chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

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