West Virginia’s New Beer Legislation A Huge Deal For Craft Brewers

West Virginia was late to the craft beer game but it is “Game On” now. And newly passed state legislation is only going to accelerate things…

In 2009 when legislation was passed that raised the state’s legal alcohol level for beer from 6 percent to 12 percent by volume (ABV) there were only three craft breweries in West Virginia.

Now that number is closer to 30.

And West Virginia Craft Brewers Guild president Aaron Rote told the West Virginia Gazette that the newly passed legislation, which further eases restrictions on the industry, could lead to a second wave of growth.

Changes in Senate Bill 529, which is pending Gov. Jim Justice’s signature, include:

  • Raising the maximum ABV from 12 percent to 15 percent.
  • Eliminating a two-growler-per-customer limit, and raising the maximum permitted growler size from 64 to 128 ounces.
  • Creating a temporary floor plan extension license to allow craft brewers to hold outdoor events on brewpub or brewery grounds or parking areas.
  • Creating one-day special licenses to allow nonprofit organizations to have beer sales during events. (Rote said craft breweries frequently are asked to provide beer sales at events, but said the current licensing process is too onerous for most associations.)
  • Eliminating bond requirements for brewers, resident brewers, distributors and brew pubs.
  • Requiring the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration to act within 30 days on license applications, instead of acting within a “reasonable time” as stated in current law.

Rote, who is also the co-founder and co-owner of Short Story Brewing  told the WV Gazette that although “he was somewhat surprised the legislation passed on its first try, he believed that “the industry has shown over the past decade that it is deserving of having more freedom and fewer regulations and restrictions.”

“We’ve done a good job of being in compliance, advancing the industry and putting West Virginians to work…It was time to let us grow as much as possible,” Rote added.

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