Point of View: SB9 will end new tasting rooms in Alaska

Senate Bill 9 is a much-needed overhaul to Alaska’s alcohol legal guidelines that 120 stakeholders have labored on for over 10 years. The modifications in SB9, which profit present breweries with two hour expanded working hours and 4 reside leisure occasions a yr, come at a direct expense. SB9 will successfully put an finish to the creation of latest breweries with tasting rooms throughout Alaska.

Over 5 years in the past, we began Grace Ridge Brewing in Homer. We love the chance to be a invaluable a part of Homer for locals in addition to vacationers. We profit our neighborhood by being household pleasant, supporting native nonprofits with our suggestions and fundraisers, displaying native artwork, supporting a weekly run or stroll occasion in addition to a knitting group. We additionally serve actually good beer and our craft beer drinkers take pleasure in coming again.

Last yr we invested $1.3 million in a brand new constructing as a result of we wished to proceed to be a part of our neighborhood. We have labored arduous and have constructed a profitable enterprise throughout the present brewery limits. New and present breweries, wineries and distilleries assist different companies, artists, nonprofits and myriad distributors, which interprets to elevated income in our state and native economies.

I’m asking the Legislature to maintain the present inhabitants limits for breweries, wineries and distilleries to make sure that others have identical alternative that we needed to open a small enterprise. SB9 takes that chance away.

Currently, there might be one licensed alcohol manufacturing-with-tasting room enterprise for each 3,000 folks in a metropolis or borough. Using 2022 inhabitants numbers, Homer, a city of 6,264, has three whole licenses obtainable and two are in use. For Fairbanks, 29,330, there are 10 whole licenses obtainable and solely three of them are in use. For Juneau, 31,785, there are 11 whole licenses obtainable and solely three are in use. In each Soldotna and Kodiak, 4,815 and 5,468 respectively, there are two whole licenses obtainable and just one in use. If SB9 is handed with the 1 per 12,000 inhabitants restriction every of those communities, in addition to Sitka, Wasilla and Ketchikan may have zero future taproom licenses obtainable. This coverage selection simply results in native monopolies.

The invoice has no caps on manufacturing beer, however removes remaining licenses obtainable for taprooms. The sponsor states SB9 gives “amazing opportunities” for future breweries. These alternatives are already obtainable. Twelve breweries have bought a Beverage Dispensary License with a Brew Pub license and eight breweries have Restaurant Eating Place Licenses. These extra licenses enable these institutions to not be restricted to the 36-ounce per particular person per day restrict, promoting solely what’s manufactured on-site with restricted hours of operation and taproom exercise restrictions.

Alaska breweries make good beer. The present statutes have allowed the expansion of this 330 million greenback a yr trade. This invoice stops future development throughout the present brewery enterprise mannequin and their product being served of their taproom. These areas are neighborhood gathering locations that locals in addition to vacationers take pleasure in. This invoice does the largest disservice to small communities throughout Alaska. Breweries with taprooms spend money on their neighborhood, create year-round jobs, pay native taxes, are household pleasant and provide the chance of beginning a small enterprise in that neighborhood.

Alaska entrepreneurs ought to have the chance to begin a brand new brewery. Alaskans who love beer ought to have the chance to profit from competitors amongst breweries, together with new breweries which are competing with the present established breweries.

Sherry Stead is co-owner of Grace Ridge Brewing.

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