Craft beer industry waiting on Tomblin bill

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — Craft beer brewers are eagerly awaiting the details of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s legislation to release restrictions on the industry to help it grow. The governor mentioned the industry in the State of the State Address last Wednesday.

“We must encourage the same innovation we ask of all of those investing in our state and allow our state’s entrepreneurs to put their skills to work without the burden of unnecessary state restrictions,” Tomblin said. “That’s why tonight I am proposing legislation to give our craft brewers increased opportunities to succeed as part of our state’s growing craft beer industry.”

Fayetteville craft beer expert Pat Strader said he hopes the legislation will include allowing a ‘Growler Hour’ at breweries.

“That’s going to give opportunities to other brewers who do not have a pub per say that they could things like a ‘Growler Hour’ will they will it up for you,” Strader said last Friday on MetroNews Hotline.

Such a move would help the craft breweries in West Virginia according to Strader.

“Tourism is big here in West Virginia. People take those home they share beer with their friends, it just continues to help get the word out there,” he said.

There are currently 11 craft beer breweries in West Virginia with five of those being located in brew-pubs.

The craft beer industry also hopes Tomblin’s bill will include a provision that will allow for beer tasting events much like wineries.

“I think that can go a long way to open up the door for tours,” Strader said.

Members of the West Virginia Craft Brewers’ Guild made a presentation to lawmakers during Sept. 2014 interim committee meetings. They asked them to streamline their licensing procedures and give them the same opportunities as wine and whiskey makers.

“I think it would be good to benchmark with those industries as well to try and set the playing field level and provide us with the benefits that they have doing their business,” guild member and Blackwater Brewing Company owner Lincoln Wilkins said at the meeting.

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