May 5, 2014 1:20 PM by Ryan Haarer

Arizona microbreweries still capped at 40,000 barrels

TUCSON- Arizona is home to dozens of craft breweries rapidly making a name for themselves and with the growing notoriety comes a desire to expand business. That desire fell short at the state legislature this year.

The liquor omnibus bill passed but without almost every provision microbreweries were asking for including the ability to produce more beer without the currently required producers license.

"Things have been real good. We are selling as much beer as we can make," said Tristan White from Dragoon Brewing.

Tristan White one of the founding members of Dragoon is also a part of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild which hired a lobbyist to help them pass quite a few provisions they hope would build up the growing industry.

"We may have bit off a little more than we can chew," said White.

One of the main desires of microbreweries was to be able to produce more beer under a microbrewery license. Currently they're only allowed to produce 40,000 barrels of beer a year which equates to 1.24 million gallons.

"At that point you have to forfeit all your retail and go with an in-state producers license which is unlimited."

Going with a producers license instead of a microbrewery license is a tough decision for some of the larger craft breweries in the state as many of them have retail space such as tasting rooms and restaurants

"They don't want to give up hundreds of jobs for retail, they don't want to give up that money, that income coming in but they do want to be able to move out of state."

Microbreweries can legally function as their own producer, wholesaler, and retailer. Opposition comes from some wholesalers who fear a disruption of the three tier system. The Arizona Craft Brewers Guild is looking forward to the next legislative session.

"In the words of Dennis Arnold, it's the wild west out here. We've got a pretty fair set of laws. I'd like to see self distribution increase but it's probably never going to happen," said White.

Most of the breweries in the state aren't producing anything close to the 40,000 barrel cap. Four Peaks and San Tan in the Phoenix area do flirt with that number.They'd like to go national if it makes sense for business. While Dragoon really doesn't see itself becoming that big this fight for higher caps promotes their rapidly growing industry.


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