Legislation could help tap more kegs for the microbrewery indust - WNEM TV 5

Legislation could help tap more kegs for the microbrewery industry

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Microbreweries may be the state's next big business boom.

"Craft beer is the new thing in the state of Michigan," said Ryan Buchinger, the manager of Frankenmuth Brewery.

Frankenmuth Brewery is one of 145 microbreweries in the state, which ranks as fifth most in the nation. And according to Pure Michigan, in 2012, the craft beer industry had a $133 million impact on the state's economy.

"Over the last decade, it has really increased, a good 10 percent of growth for the state of Michigan," said Buchinger.

But legislation in Lansing could help brew pubs like Frankenmuth Brewery to grow even more.

"It's great, we are a tourist state, and of course in Frankenmuth, we are a tourist town, so it's just great for the whole economy," said Tom Wood.

Wood is a co-owner of Sullivan's Black Forest in Frankenmuth. He also represents the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association. He said good steps are in the works at the state level to update the Michigan Liquor Control Code.

The House Regulatory Reform Committee recently put together a package of bills that will, among other things, make it legal for bars and restaurants to have "brand-logoed" pints, bar napkins and coasters.

"The only state in the country that it's illegal. And it goes back to the prohibition era and that," said Wood. 

If this makes it through the state legislation, the definition of a microbrewer would change. Currently, a microbrewer can produce 30,000 barrels each year. But with this new legislation, it would allow microbreweries to produce 60,000 barrels a year, which could be a great way to let them expand.

"We are not at that level where it affects us quite yet, but potentially in the future," said Buchinger.

Frankenmuth Brewery currently brews 7,000 barrels of beer a year, but with changes to the liquor code, the thought is fewer regulations combined with stronger marketing will help the industry grow.

The bills now head to the state legislation for a vote. If they make it through both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it will head to the governor for his signature.

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