More on the politics of beer in Montana. Politics and beer have been joined together since the beginning of our country. Remember the Whiskey Rebellion? There’s a good book on the history of the saloon period from 1870-1920 called “Faces Along the Bar” by Madelon Powers. People who say they loves their freedoms turn around and like to control other people’s ability to brew their own brew. They also seek to control people’s leisure time. It’s an old story.
Major rumbling began maybe 2 weeks ago – a bill designed to kill Montana craft breweries as we know it. Lizard, though, I should point out, gave us the foreboding preview back in February with his The Politics of Beer post. HB616 has been put forth by Great Falls Rep. Roger Hagan at the request of the Montana Tavern Association.
The fiscal note has a pretty plain language summary of the bill. It does significantly change the licensing fee for breweries and it changes production limits such that virtually all current “small breweries” would then be reclassified with higher licensing costs, jumping from $200 to $100,000.
The hearing was held today in House Business & Labor. The room was packed, with proponents of the bill largely being bar and tavern owners. One proponent of this bill stood out – Big Sky Brewing located right here in Missoula.
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