West Virginia State Legislature passes Craft Beer bill

West Virginia is home to eleven breweries that are expecting to expand after Earl RayGovernor Tomblin passed Senate Bill 273. Senate Bill 273 will allow for local breweries to sell growlers, or specialty bottles at more locations throughout the state.

As stated by the West Virginia State Legislature, Senate Bill 273 will, “permit licensed brewers and resident brewers to conduct growler sales for off-premises consumption from their brewery premises located in the state; clarifying licensing and operational requirements for brewers.”

This bill will not only make it easier for local breweries to distribute their beer across the state, but will also allow for more breweries to open with less expensive fees.

When opening up a local brewery, owners face a hefty fee of $2,500 for a resident brewers license, plus a $1,000 fee to operate a brewpub.

SB 273 will give local breweries the chance to grow by allowing tastings and samples of their beer statewide and creating more opportunities to open other breweries.

According to WV Public Broadcasting, since 2011 the number of local breweries has increased from 5 to 11, but with SB 273 passing the numbers of local breweries are expected to increase.

“West Virginia is one of the smallest states for craft brewing—right around 8,000 barrels a year is what West Virginia is doing, which is up from about 5,000 the year before,” said Paul Gatza of the Boulder, Colorado-based Brewers Association, a trade organization that promotes the craft brewing industry across the country, as reported by WV Public Broadcasting.

According to Brewers Association, in 2012 West Virginia craft breweries made $118.2 million and produce 7,923 barrels of beer per year.

Governor Tomblin has proclaimed a statewide craft beer week starting August 15 and running until August 22. There will be several craft beer festivals around the state. These festivals include the sold out Rails and Ales in Huntington, the Mountaineer Brewfest in Wheeling, and the Brew Skies Festival at Timberline in Davis.

Shalee Rogney can be contacted at [email protected].