Celebrating One Year of Better Beer Laws

The time, it flies! On June 28, 2016, Governor Gina Raimondo signed House Bill 8100 Substitute B and Senate Bill 3053 Substitute A, which allowed breweries to sell 288 ounces of beer for off-premise consumption (in any combo of growlers, bottles, and cans – a significant increase from the former 72-ounce limit) and serve 36 ounces in-house. To mark the anniversary of the momentous signing, we asked brewery folks to tell us how the ch-ch-ch-ch-changes have impacted their establishments.

Matt Richardson, the brewmaster/co-founder at Tilted Barn Brewery, says, “We’ve been going full-on here at the Barn since the law changed. We quadrupled production initially and have since added another 15-barrel fermenter, bought our own canning line and hired our first TBB employee. Needless to say, we’re pretty pleased with the law change and I think our customers are as well.”

Newport Storm co-founder Brent Ryan reports, “The biggest change we’ve seen is a more positive interaction with our guests. We still get requests for kegs and larger amounts of beer for events or people looking to load up before heading out of state. However, the ability to say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ when someone wants to leave with a six-pack and a bomber or two growlers has been great. It makes our visitors happy and makes them feel good about what we are doing here.”

Brent, who is the president of the Rhode Island Brewers Guild, also shared this info re: the collective’s efforts to keep growing their businesses: “We have been most active trying to ensure that the state does not reinterpret the manufacturing equipment exemption to exclude our kegs. As one of the largest assets many brewers purchase, imposing the 7% use tax on the acquisition of these expensive pieces of equipment would certainly impede the ability for the state’s small brewers to grow their businesses. Fortunately, it is a tax that has never been imposed on kegs and we currently have legislation submitted that would make it explicitly clear that these are exempted. That said, we are really hoping that the Division of Taxation and the Department of Revenue decide not to reinterpret the law and follow the collection traditions that have been in place for decades.”

(And speaking of Newport Storm, be on the lookout for their latest limited edition brew: aRIstotle, a farmhouse ale (9% ABV) made with saison yeast that was aged in American white oak barrels for six months.)

Nick Garrison, president/founder of Foolproof Brewing Company, says, “The improved laws have opened up our venue for a variety of unique public and private events, which has been driving new traffic into Foolproof and Pawtucket in general. We’ve also been able to extend our retail hours, which has allowed us to hire more people. [And] I believe that the additional foot traffic in our taproom is ultimately helping to grow our wholesale business, which still remains the core of our business.”

Mat Medeiros, the peerless PR guy at Revival Brewing Company, says, “The beer law directly influenced Revival’s decision to can. We were already thinking about canning the beer for retail, but it was a slow burn. Then when the law was passed we had no reason not to start canning. If we could sell full pints at the tasting room and cases to go, then we’d be foolish not to. So it definitely got things moving faster for us.”

Emily Sorlien, the senior art director at Whalers Brewing Company, says, “We see having a healthy taproom business as a pivotal component to creating brand awareness and loyalty. When our customers have a great experience in the taproom, they are exponentially more likely to buy our beer on draught or at a package store when they see it out in the wild.”

And Armando Dedona, the brew guru at Long Live Beerworks, kept it short and sweet: “Since the law change our customer base has grown and I was able to hire more people.”

When the bills were signed on June 28, 2016, Tilted Barn tweeted, “Great times ahead in Little Rhody.” True dat! Onward and upward!! Cheers!!!

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