EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

November 3, 2013

Your view: Letters to the editor

Brewery laws needan update

To the editor:

I am a craft beer brewer in Haverhill, working with The Tap Brewing Company to create local jobs and expand our reach. I am proud of our products we offer at The Tap and love sharing our beer with our customers and friends.

However, there is a common hurdle that all small brewers are facing and it’s impeding our ability to grow our businesses. That issue is the outdated law unfairly binding breweries to wholesalers, who act as the middleman between a brewery and retail establishments. This 40-year-old law created a process for the governance of relationships between distributors and brewers. The problem is it was written before craft brewers like Sam Adams, Harpoon, Ipswich Ale, Haverhill Brewery or the more than 50 other craft brewers in Massachusetts even existed. It is time to update the law to reflect the current state of the beer business, not its status from when the law was written in 1971.

Small brewers are struggling to compete with the two gigantic international brewers that represent eight out of every 10 beers sold in Massachusetts. Anheuser-Busch/InBev and Miller-Coors control close to 90 percent of the market nationally and here at home. Small brewers have to fight for the attention of the wholesaler against these two behemoths to get our beer on the shelves of your local package store. We are different from Budweiser or Miller-Coors and we ask that state law recognize the disparities to allow Massachusetts craft brewers to grow and create jobs.

H 267, a bill filed on the state level, amends the existing dispute resolution process so that we can have some accountability in our lopsided relationships with wholesalers, yet still protects the wholesaler. It is illogical and based on an antiquated law for the state to tether me or any brewer like me to the wrong business partner. It hurts my business.

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