Congress May Help Out Small Brewers



Beer maids nationwide rejoin.
  • Beer maids nationwide rejoin.

While the bickering continues in Ohio, one populist movement appears to be gaining traction at the federal level: the push for affordable beer.

Last week, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and Idaho’s Mike Crapo introduced legislation that had kicked around Congress for a couple of years: the Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief Act, or BEER. They hope to free up cash for the country’s 1,600 small brewers, a good number of whom call Northeast Ohio home.

Currently, brewers who produce less than two million barrels a year get the shaft on excise taxes, forking over $7 to $18 for every barrel produced. The BEER Act would slash the rates in half for the first 60,000 barrels. Supporters estimate a savings of $40 million, and they’ve got a good plan for the windfall.

“It would be easier to divert that money to employees and equipment,” says John Nayeway, owner of Akron’s Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. and president of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association.

“There are at least eight or nine [local] breweries that are trying to expand right now ... It would be nice to have that break. They did stimulus funding for everything else out there.”

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