Craft brewers across the state: Raise your glasses, kick back your boots and stroke your beards in triumph.
On Tuesday, Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law S.B. 1030, the Arizona Beer Bill proposed late last year that will allow brewers to produce more beer while retaining their retail locations. We've discussed the bill before.
The new law won't go into effect until the end of June, but its impact will be widely felt. Under the old legislation, brewers could only produce 40,000 barrels of beer per year at each of their locations (a barrel is equivalent to two 15.5-gallon kegs, or 31 gallons of beer). Once crossing that threshold, a brewery would be labeled an "in-state producer" and would be forced to divest itself of additional locations, such as restaurants or tasting rooms -- not a great situation for a brewery such as Four Peaks Brewing Co., which operates brewpub locations in Tempe, Scottsdale and at Sky Harbor in addition to a large production facility at Wilson Street in Tempe.
The amended bill will allow brewers to produce a maximum of 200,000 barrels cumulatively across all locations. Breweries producing fewer than 40,000 barrels a year will be able to open up a maximum of seven locations and deliver their beers to those locations without going through a distributor. The bill also allows breweries to set up guest taps and sell up to 20 percent of total beer sales worth of other brewers' beers without additional licensing.
The bill-signing took place at Four Peaks Brewing Co.'s 8th Street location Tuesday night.
"This is a common-sense reform to an arbitrary and outdated law," Gov. Ducey says. "Arizona has a booming craft beer industry and it's growing every day. I want to ensure that it continues to thrive, unimpeded by overly burdensome regulations. It's good for industry, enterprise and the economy -- and it's good for Arizona."
The true impact of the bill may be seen earlier than we think. This week, the Brewers Association released its annual list of the top 50 craft breweries in the country, ranked by production volume. In the 50th spot is Breckenridge Brewery of Colorado, which currently makes around 65,000 barrels of beer each year. Four Peaks, the largest brewery in the state, is on track to produce around 70,000 barrels by the end of 2015, so we may see an Arizona brewer enter the ranks of the nation's top-producing breweries very soon. Cheers to that.