Legislation has allowed state's craft beer industry to thrive

11/28/2016 04:33 PM

FLORENCE – Officials with the Kentucky Guild of Brewers say that 2016 legislation, which allowed craft brewers to double the maximum production cap for a calendar year, has paid dividends for the growing number of micro brewers across the state.

Adam Watson, owner of Against the Grain brewery and president of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, told members of the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations on Monday that Senate Bill 11, which increased the production cap for a microbrewery license from 25,000 barrels to 50,000 barrels per year has led to many positives in the industry.

“Places that have seen expansion and been able to do so more confidently and much larger because of this increase in barrel cap include my brewery, Against the Grain, as well as Country Boy, West Sixth, Goodwood, Blue Stallion, Roosters, Falls City, Ei8htball, Braxton, Great Flood, and Lemons Mill,” Watson said. “We’ve also seen a bunch of openings since then.”

Watson also pointed out to committee members that another factor leading to the success of many micro brewers is that the Kentucky Guild of Brewers has been able to form strategic partnerships with a number of entities.

“The Guild has partnered with the Kentucky Tourism Cabinet to raise the visibility of craft beer and to promote the state as a tourism destination,” Watson said. “This happens all over the state at all of our breweries, but particularly in places like Louisville or Lexington where you can park your car and essentially walk to a handful of breweries. It’s created a real craft beer tourism culture where people come from all over.”

Daniel “DH” Harrison, owner of Country Boy Brewing, says that the industry has grown at an astonishing rate in the commonwealth.

“In the past 5 years, Kentucky’s craft brewery sector has experienced a growth rate of 600 percent,” Harrison said. “Kentucky’s craft brewers export to 38 states and more than 12 countries.”

In 2016, 11 new breweries opened or will be open by the end of the year.

Of the states 40 craft brewers, 16 are expanding operations and/or investing capital to increase capacity and production.

This year, Kentucky brewers increased their workforce by more than 265 percent. Kentucky brewers added over 116 jobs in 2016, bringing the total workforce to over 570 jobs in the craft beer industry.


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