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Innis calls for change to beer regulations

Sep 01, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

In the last two years, the number of breweries in the US has grown by nearly 50%. The popularity of local beer has been a boon to the New Hampshire economy. Still, some, including state senator Dan Innis, argue the Granite State’s liquor laws are restricting the growth of small-scale breweries in the state.

Liquor laws in NH

Since the close of Prohibition, New Hampshire has maintained strict control over the manufacture and sale of alcohol within its borders. The network of state-owned liquor stores across the Granite State is one prominent reflection of this. The state also imposes fees and restrictions on brewers and other alcoholic beverage manufacturers based on the amount they produce annually.

NH authorizes nanobreweries

In 2011, the New Hampshire Legislature created a special license for “nanobreweries” — those that produce less than 2,000 barrels of beer each year. The nanobrewery license exempts small scale brewers from some of the costly requirements that larger beer makers face. This change in the law is largely credited with the recent rise in NH-made craft beer.

Should regulations change again?

Some in the New Hampshire brewing community feel that the current law makes it too hard for nanobreweries to expand. Currently, if a brewery makes more than 2,000 barrels per year it becomes subject to the same regulations as one making 15,000 barrels per year and must purchase an annual $1,200 license. Proponents of further loosening New Hampshire’s liquor laws believe that fewer regulations on small breweries will encourage further growth and innovation in the brewing industry.

Opponents of changing the current laws argue that the craft beer market is already oversaturated. They believe the existing barriers to entry help prevent people from entering the business who are not prepared for the larger expenses associated with industrial beer making. These expenses include equipment and liability insurance.

What do you think? Should New Hampshire relax some of the legal restrictions it currently imposes on small breweries? Or, are these laws serving their intended purposes? Weigh in by leaving a comment below.


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Senator, NH Senate (2016 - present); Professor of Marketing and Hospitality Management, University of New Hampshire; Former Dean of Business and Economics, University of New Hampshire; Founder, Ale House Inn and Hotel Portsmouth; Candidate, U.S.


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