More Jobs? More Craft Beer — Michigan Gets Hopping

Photograph by Courtney Sacco/AnnAbor.Com/AP Photo

The Michigan Summer Beer Festival.

Lawmakers in Michigan want to create more jobs.

They’re hopping to it.

The Legislature has passed a bipartisan measure  amending many state liquor laws, which in the process changes the definition of a microbrewery.

Emma Fidel, our recently departed colleague, reports for the Associated Press in Lansing that the bill headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature doubles production limits on the micro crowd from 30,000  to 60,000 barrels a year.

Start-up craft brewers also are allowed limited self-distribution.

This frothy mixture of new regulations cleared the  House and Senate on Wednesday. Brewers and trade associations say the new regulations will help the industry grow and create jobs, Fidel reports. Michigan’s $2 billion beer industry accounted for more than  5,000 brewing and distribution jobs and more than 30,000 retail jobs in 2012, according to the Washington-based Beer Institute.

“These reforms will open the door of opportunity for businesses and further support Michigan’s thriving craft beer sector,” Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association President Mike Lashbrook said in a statement. “After more than two years of working with diverse stakeholders and making  concessions to find common ground, distributors look forward to doing our part to keep Michigan beer hopping.”

Like most legislation, this is the result of a highly refined process.

Rep. Kevin Cotter, a  Mt. Pleasant Republican who sponsored the bill, calls it a victory for breweries fighting an “arbitrary” limit set in the 1990s — like the new limit.

“Frankly, 60,000 is another arbitrary cap. We arrived at it by multiplying the current cap by two,” Cotter said in an interview. “I have a lot of confidence that we’re going to butt up against that threshold in the coming years.”

The bill-signing is sure to be followed by a party. Lashbrook represents 53 distributors.


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