Beer, bourbon production in Kentucky could expand soon thanks to - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Beer, bourbon production in Kentucky could expand soon thanks to Senate Bill 11

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As Kentucky's craft beer scene continues to grow, the owners of Against the Grain are trying to keep up with the demand.

But current alcohol laws pose some challenges.

Microbreweries can only produce a maximum of 25,000 barrels per year.

But a new bill could allow the industry to grow and still maintain its local status.

"If you asked us four years ago if that would ever be an issue, we would have told you there's no way, we would never get there. But at last, we are getting there.  And there are a handful of other breweries around the state that are rapidly approaching 25,000 barrel limits," said Against the Grain co-owner Adam Watson.

Microbreweries can open pubs and restaurants, but only if they stay within the barrel limit.

It's a perk that comes with being a small business.

“But if we as a microbrewery brew 24,999 barrels of beer, we then have to choose to either continue brewing or close down all of our retail locations, including our pub at slugger field," said Watson. "But there's no real reason we should have to make that decision."

It's a cap state Senator Morgan McGarvey is trying to raise with Senate Bill 11.

He says the bill would not only help expand microbreweries but Kentucky's bourbon industry as well.

“As that begins to grow and attract and bring people to Kentucky, there are certain things they want to do to be able to enhance that experience," Senator McGarvey said. "So one of the things Senate bill 11 does, it allows distilleries to sell by the drink, which they couldn't do before."

The new law would also allow distilleries to sell more bottles of alcohol on site and offer larger samples of bourbon and other spirits.

The bill has already passed in the Senate and will now go to the House.

"The House is going to be a more interesting challenge because it have a larger representation from the more rural and dry counties," Watson explained. "I think their fears and concerns come from some perception of an increased amount of drunkenness. But the fact that it doesn't harm or remove anything or anyone, it will create an economic selling point, especially in a year when the Capitol needs more money and this creates the opportunity for us to make more highly taxable beer."

Supporters of Senate Bill 11 hope to have it passed by this legislative session.

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