Craft Beer takes on the Capital.

On Tuesday, the Montana Brewers Association along with many of our fellow Montana breweries, hop and barley growers, beer lovers, and other local business took to Helena to present and support the 10 pm bill – HB 185, to the House Business and Labor Committee.

The 10 pm bill advocates for changing a state law to allow breweries that produce between 100 and 60,000 barrels of beer annually (like us!), to stay open an additional two hours, until 10 p.m.

We believe the extra time to boost our sales will enable us to put money back into the local economy.

Owners of bars and taverns, however, oppose the idea. They argue it would let breweries operate more like their businesses without having to purchase the same expensive licenses they have to.

Rep. David Fern, a Democrat from Whitefish, is carrying House Bill 185.

We still get thirsty after 8pm! 

Fern said he came up with the bill after developing a thirst when out knocking doors campaigning this summer. After calling it a day around 8:30 or 9 p.m., he said he wanted to grab a beer at a local brewery near his house and was disappointed to find it closed. (Independent Record-Helena)

“(I) realized that while it was still sunny out and people were just coming off their recreation activities in my area, the facility was closed. And it struck me as just being odd being in a tourist destination area where there seems to be lots of activity and sunlight and demand for this facility.”

“In Montana, we see long summer days, and it just seems appropriate that these businesses be open,” Fern said.

Breweries are good for Montana.

The amazing representation of our industry made the case that brewery taprooms are an essential source of revenue, helping to create jobs and opportunities for many individuals throughout the state. While our industry is thriving we are still at a disadvantage. HB 185 would alleviate some of the restrictions, by allowing taprooms to stay open until 10 pm, giving us two more business hours to keep doing good for our communities.

Beer is tied to two of Montana’s leading industries, tourism and agriculture, which both benefit when beer does well.

Matt Leow, executive director of Montana Brewers Association, said “craft breweries have become a serious economic engine in Montana, touching everything from farmers growing malt and barley to the brewers, retail alcohol license holders and more.”

A study from the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research in 2016 found an additional 1,044 permanent jobs in the state created by brewer operations, as well as $33 million in personal incomes and an increase in sales from business of $103 million. (Independent Record-Helena)

Call your legislators!

HB-185 will live or die in the next 24 hours, and we need your help! Now is the time for all of us, everyone from craft beer makers to craft beer lovers, to help get this bill out of committee and onto the House floor, by delivering messages of support for HB 185.

If you live in Montana and would like to see breweries open past 8pm, you need to call and/or email these representatives and tell them to support the bill. There are several representatives in the House Business and Labor Committee sitting on the fence or leaning no.  Even with the great representation at the bill hearing on Tuesday,  our opponents, led by the Montana Tavern Association, spread enough confusion and misinformation that they may just be able to kill the bill.

We urge you to please take the time to call and tell them why you support the increase from 8pm to 10pm.

Who to call…

Sharon Stewart Peregoy – HD 42, Crow Agency

Fred Anderson – HD 20, Great Falls

Willis Curdy – HD 98, Missoula

Neil Duram – HD 2, Eureka

Derek Harvey – HD 74, Butte

Joel Krautter – HD 35, Sidney

Denley Loge – HD 14, Saint Regis

Andrea Olsen – HD 100, Missoula

Gordon Pierson – HD 78, Deer Lodge

You can also send a message to the entire committee.

  • Use this online form to send a message
  • Under “Send Message to” select “Committees”
  • Then, in the drop down menu, choose “(H) Business and Labor”
  • For “Bill Type and Number” enter “HB 185”
  • Select “For”
  • Then write a brief message urging them to pass the bill out of committee

For more information on the bill and what it means for Montana, check out the HB 185 fact sheet.

If you love Montana’s craft beer culture as much as we do, please speak up, every voice counts!