LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Brewpubs would save a big chunk of money and gain more control over their products if a proposed law goes through in Carson City this year.
Senate Bill 108 (SB108), sponsored by Senator Rochelle T. Nguyen (D-Las Vegas), would eliminate a quirk in the law that requires brew pubs to go through a distributor to send their own product to their own taproom.
That results in a 38% markup — for the beer they made.
“It’s shocking, still to me,” said Wyndee Forrest, who owns Craft Haus in Henderson and in the Las Vegas Arts District. She is also president of the Nevada Craft Brewers Association.
At a Wednesday hearing in Carson City, Nguyen compared the situation to requiring a pizza place to use DoorDash to deliver their pizzas. “They made that product. They should be able to deliver that product,” Nguyen said.
Republican Senator Jeff Stone challenged the bill, asking why craft brewers had agreed to the cost when they started their businesses, but now are seeking to eliminate it. He pointed out that “appropriate tax revenue” for the state is tied to the wholesale distribution system.
SB108 also expands craft brewers’ opportunities for special events, changing the limit on a special event from one day to three days. That will allow easier participation in multiday music festivals and other events. They are still limited to 20 events per year.
Forrest emphasized that distributors are an important part of craft brewers’ business. “We value our distributor. They allow us access into accounts, especially on the Strip or larger accounts that we could never be able to open those doors,” she said.
“I don’t want to end my relationship with my distributor. I would just like to control my own product at my own business,” Forrest said.
During the presentation of the bill, Forrest detailed the growing economic importance of craft brewers. She said 51 businesses in the state employ 4,100 people and generate $528 million in economic impact in 2021. About 78,000 barrels of beer were produced.
She also noted that Nevada is 44th in the nation for beer production — while Clark County is third among all counties in the U.S. for per-capita beer consumption.
Stone and others on the committee asked about limits on craft brewers’ production, and asked how it was affecting growth in the small business community. There was some support for re-examining statutes that say each brewer can only produce 40,000 barrels.
Nguyen noted the importance of businesses like Able Baker Brewing (her “go-to” craft brewer) in anchoring small business growth in the Arts District. She also mentioned Lovelady Brewing Company’s presence on Water Street in Henderson as an important factor in that area’s success.