The Strange Politics of Beer


In early January, two bills were introduced in the legislature that, if successful, would have torpedoed the state’s booming brewery industry faster than you can say “hazy IPA.” The bills required breweries to choose between making beer for on-site or off-site drinking, essentially outlawing the production brewery business model, which is generally based on distributing beer on tap and in cans or bottles, and serving it on premises at a brewery taproom.

Neither bill had a realistic chance to pass. Both were quickly scuttled after a swift and intense outcry — people tend to get angry when you threaten their source of beer — but even their proposal is troubling, and not just for beer lovers. The bills serve as reminders that sometimes politicians lend their ears to special interest groups, forgetting what’s best for the public at large.

The bills were sponsored by Rep. Brandon McGee and Sen. Doug McCrory, both Democrats representing Hartford. But the real authors of the bill seemed to be beer wholesalers, distributors and retailers, who previously voiced concerns about the efforts of some brewery owners to eliminate the existing 9-liter-per-day limit on beer sales direct to consumers.

McGee quickly disavowed his support of his bill after brewery owners and beer lovers made their feelings known. McCrory, whose press aide did not return multiple calls seeking comment for this story, hesitated before withdrawing his bill and made…

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