Cutting the red tape on a growing craft beer industry

Connecticut’s state elected leaders can work in a bipartisan to make it easier for businesses to grow. That was demonstrated by the passage of the Modernization of the Liquor Control Act legislation that was passed during the recent session of the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday.

The changes will enable the further expansion of the booming craft beer industry and make Connecticut more attractive to brewery companies looking for areas in which to expand. More generally, it helps state brewers, distillers and wine producers to grow and meet increasing market demand, particularly among millennials, for locally produced products.

In his campaign for governor, Lamont had said it would be among his priorities to streamline needlessly burdensome regulations, a task in which the Democratic governor found bipartisan support when it came to the Act Streamlining the Liquor Control Act.

The law consolidates four different beer manufacturer permits — beer, farm brewery, beer and brew pub, brew pub only — into one permit. This not only streamlines the administration of these permits but provides business owners with the flexibility to adapt to market demand without having to seek permit changes.

It creates a Connecticut Craft Café permit that will allow any manufacturing permit holder to sell other types of alcohol manufactured in Connecticut — meaning wineries, cideries and distilleries, for example, could also offer a locally produced craft beer.

And it provides the ability for craft breweries to produce wine, cider and spirits in the same facility, something heretofore prohibited.

All told, the changes streamline the number of permits from about 40 to 12, said state Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, who was among those who led the effort to modernize the Liquor Control Act.

Consumers can explore local craft beer options at www.connecticut.beer.

Among the changes receiving attention is allowing craft breweries to sell up to nine gallons to an individual customer, the equivalent of about four cases of 12-ounce cans, an increase from the nine-liter restriction that had been in place, or about one case of 12-ounce cans.

What the changes have in common is that they respond to the stated concerns of those in the industry, keeping necessary safeguards in place but eliminating restrictions that did not make sense. State employment in the craft brewing industry reached 800 last year, up from 15 in 2010. These changes should help that expansion to continue.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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