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New law is a win for microbreweries, craft beer drinkers

Posted at 6:59 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 19:05:07-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A new law on the books in Kentucky will not only save microbreweries money, but it will also give them more freedom.

"It's a lot of happiness right now," Executive Director for the Kentucky Guild of Brewers Derek Selznick said. "This is an absolute game changer for our industry."

SB15 was signed into law by Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday, and it essentially allows microbreweries to cut out the middleman. Currently, microbreweries must use a wholesaler or distributor to sell their product to retailers like restaurants and bars. When the new law goes into effect in the summer, microbreweries will be able to sell directly to those retailers. This is allowed for up to 2,500 barrels every year.

For Ethereal Brewing owner Andrew Bishop, this is a huge win. Most notably, he said it will allow him to have more money to invest in his employees and equipment because he won't be paying a distributor.

"That's tens of thousands of dollars in our pocket which turns into somebody's salary, which turns into being able to buy a truck and have insurance on it, which turns into being able to buy more stuff for canning lines to be able to get more stuff out to market, and it just makes it more lucrative to make those pushes," Bishop said.

It's also more convenient. Right now, for Bishop to get his beer to his next-door neighbors at the Distillery District, such as middle fork kitchen bar and Elkhorn Tavern, a distributor must come pick up the beer, drive it down the road to a facility to be held for at least 24 hours. Then, it is driven back to the Distillery District and dropped off at the restaurant and bar.

"It's kind of ludicrous as far as the overall process," Bishop said.

Now, he can self-sell the beer and literally roll the barrels mere feet away to retailers in the District.

Middle fork and Etheral Brewing.jpg

According to Selznick, the new law is a win for customers as well. He said it will encourage other breweries to come to the state and for existing ones to provide a wider variety of beers to choose from.

Selznick said the Guild has been working toward this legislation for about five years. And this new law, along with others have bolstered the industry.

"The General Assembly is really taking the shackles off our industry to allow us to survive and thrive and we really appreciate that," he said.

However, he's hoping to expand beyond SB 15 in the future by increasing the barrel limit. Right now, it's set at 2,500 barrels a year, but microbreweries in surrounding states like Ohio can self-sell up to a million barrels.