Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in Sacramento does not stay in Sacramento. And that will be especially true if two bills wending their way through the political chambers of the state capital pass, in their current form, because these two bills would create and stymie opportunities for California craft brewers.
Assembly Bill 2010 would cap the amount of duplicate permits that a brewery could acquire to six. What’s a duplicate permit? It allows a brewery to operate a retail or warehousing location as long as there are no brewing operations. Cutting through red tape of having to obtain a costly and time consuming second brewing permit. Currently there is no limit. You could get 1 duplicate or 100 or 200. The aim seems to be to keep a level playing field for breweries small and large. A competitor with deeper pockets can’t overrun a market with stores or warehouses. They would have to be more judicious with where they open since it applies to the whole state.
Obviously most breweries won’t bump up against the wall of six but others like Stone Brewing, who have been utilizing the duplicate permits, might. And it might slow people like Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, who have a Torpedo Room in Berkeley, from opening more. For that reason, I think the number is a bit low and prohibits suitable growth. Neither of those companies is a monopoly and a higher cap would seem reasonable to me.
The other bill is a little less divisive. Assembly Bill 2004 would allow brewers to sell their beer at local farmers’ markets, something that California based winemakers are currently allowed, but brewers are not. This would come with restrictions. A brewer could only sell in their county or an adjacent county.
I was surprised to learn that wineries were allowed to sell at farmers’ markets. Maybe I am too focused on fruits and vegetables to notice, but this would be a great opportunity for a local brewery to engage a different cross-section of the community and might lead to increased visits to one of their (6) taprooms.
The Beer of the Week is a machine. A Mocha Machine from the mind of brewer Julian Shrago at Beachwood Brewing. The brewery describes it as “brewed with an array of British and German malts and infused with masterfully roasted coffee from Costa Mesa California’s Portola Coffee Lab. Then aged in cacao nibs from Ecuador.”
Your Homework is to make your travel plans for Berlin. But wait until 2016 when the long anticipated European version of Stone Brewing with bistro, garden and store, is open to the German public. It’s been a good month for Germany. World Cup champions and now infinitely more Arrogant and hoppier.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.
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