Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Self-distribution for breweries in Nebraska

This just in, courtesy of Brian Collins: LB 955 was introduced to the Nebraska Legislature on January 14. This bill amends the Nebraska Liquor Control Act to permit breweries to sell beer directly to retailers. You can read the entire (PDF) text of the bill at the Nebraska Legislature web site.

For small breweries, the three-tier system is an impediment to getting beer into the marketplace. Once a brewery reaches a certain size, it makes sense to give a third party a share of the revenue in exchange for delivering the beer, but very small operations can't afford that overhead. So I'm totally in favor of this bill. My only concern is how existing wholesaler contracts will be affected: if we already have a contract with a local wholesaler, will that prevent us from self-distributing our beer locally? If so, the bill is essentially meaningless for existing breweries.

In any case, I'll be contacting my State Senator today. If you're a Nebraska resident, you can find your Senator's contact information at nebraskalegislature.gov.

[Edit 2008-01-19: Nate at the Nebraska Beer Blog points out that the bill in fact specifically allows out-of-state alcohol (except beer) manufacturers to own Nebraska liquor distributors. It does not in fact have anything to do with self-distribution for breweries in Nebraska. So I do not support this bill. If the state wants a strict three-tier system, then it damned well better apply to everybody. My comments above about the three-tier system impeding small brewers still stand, but they're not relevant to this bill.]

1 comment:

Richard Stueven said...

Aw, hell...I'm confused. I just read the bill again and it looks like it does allow breweries to self-distribute in Nebraska. Can somebody who speaks legalese please read the bill and tell me what it really means? If I call my Senator again with yet a third opinion, he'll (rightly) write me off as a moron.