U.S. Rep. Richard Neal Makes Case for Small Brew Bill in Berkshires

Jan 24, 2013

Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal met with brewers from across the Bay State today to discuss the upcoming brewing industry and a bill that seeks to make microbreweries more competitive.

At the Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington today, Congressman Neal spoke to beermakers from the Berkshires to Cape Cod about a bill that would give a tax credit to microbreweries across the country. Neal, who said he first drafted the bill about five years ago, said it enjoys bipartisan support, and spoke to members of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild to get them to push their own legislators on the issue.

Neal said that for Western Massachusetts, maximizing the potential of microbreweries could have a noticeable impact on the regional economy.

Neal, who first introduced the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act, also known as the Small Brew Act, in 2011, said  the goal is to help small brewers become more competitive against big distributors, and that by giving them a leg up, can help tap them into  a growing market.

Ned LaFortune, Co-Founder and President of Wachusett Brewing Company from Westminster, said that a tax credit would help smaller brewing companies like his own reinvest in their businesses and promote growth.

Jim Koch, Founder of the Boston Beer Company, which produces the Samuel Adams brand, says that the craft-brew industry has changed dramatically since he began his company in 1984.

But also, Koch says, that although the beer industry has changed, it’s now time for the tax framework to change.

Under current law, a small brewer that produces less than 2 million barrels per year pays $7.00 per barrel on its first 60,000 barrels. Any more, and the brewer pays $18.00 per barrel.

The Small brew Act would create a graduated beer excise tax rate of $3.50 and $16.00 for small brewers and raise the ceiling to qualify for the small brewer rates from two million barrels to six million barrels.

The Massachusetts Brewers Guild estimates that breweries in Massachusetts provide $535 million in tax revenues every year, and employs over 1,300 people.