Archives for February 2010

How It’s Done in Colorado

The view of fighting the C-Bill and G-Bill from the inside

With all of the complicated liquor laws in place, how does a new brewery make a go of it?

In the State of Colorado, we are blessed, as a brewery, to have the ability to have a wholesale liquor license (in addition to our manufacturers liquor license) which permits us to self-distribute. This means that we can buy a van, knock on doors of independently-owned liquor stores, have them sample what we have to offer, and let them decide to stock their shelves with our products . . . or not. This is opposed to the very common “Three Tier” system in many states which mandate that there is a brewery, there is a distributor, and there is a retailer. Brewery and retailer never meet.

This past Wednesday, I had the privilege of joining the Colorado Brewer’s Guild, Left Hand Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, and Dry Dock Brewing to give testimony to oppose House Bill 1186 which would allow full strength beer to be served in convenience stores in Colorado. Why would the brewers of Colorado oppose such a bill? Wouldn’t it just be more outlets in which to sell their beer? There are many reasons why we oppose this. Let me cite two.

Our to-date success is primarily a result of our independently-owned liquor stores that carry our products. Many of these stores are located near, or next to convenience stores and grocery stores (Did I mention that House Bill 1279 which would allow grocery stores to stock full-strength beer is soon to be introduced?). While grocery stores and convenience stores are able to carry a wide variety of products, liquor stores can carry three things: beer, wine, and liquor. Most liquor stores rely on about 50% of their sales as beer. Netting it out:   You kill the indepenently-owned Colorado liquor store, you kill the Colorado craft beer culture that gives us the variety we love in our great state.

Reason #2: Convenience stores and grocery stores will not carry the variety of craft beer that you currently enjoy in liquor stores. Picture this: You are a new brewery in Colorado. You want to sell your beer. You knock on the door of the local convenience store or grocery store (because all of the independently-owned liquor stores are out of business). They say, “Well, we don’t make those kinds of decisions here. You’ll have to talk to our corporate office in Tempe, Arizona”. So you need to get in line, and maybe someday you’ll get a call back with that “no thanks” that you needed to be a “sure, OK” in order to get your product to market. Access to free market is squashed.

The state that produces more beer than any state in the nation, the home of 114 breweries, the Brewer’s Association, the Colorado Brewer’s Guild, and the Great American Beer Festival is under siege by this proposed legislation. The rules in place work. The rules in place have fostered arguably the best state in the nation for craft beer.

If you want to continue to enjoy great beer in Colorado, please give a shout out to your State Representatives. I did it for the first time this past week. So can you. Without craft beer enthusiasts voicing their concerns, you just may be looking at one of the last new breweries in Colorado.

House Finance Committee

Joel Judd — Colorado State Representative, District 5 Capitol Phone: (303)866-2925 E-Mail: repjoeljudd@joeljudd.com

Debbie Benefield — Colorado State Representative, District 29 Capitol Phone: 303-866-2950 E-mail: debbie.benefield.house@state.co.us

Brian DelGrosso — Colorado State Representative, District 51 Capitol Phone: (303)866-2947 E-Mail: brian@briandelgrosso.com

K. Jerry Frangas — Colorado State Representative, District 4 Capitol Phone: (303)866-2954 E-Mail: kjerry.frangas.house@state.co.us

Cheri Gerou — Colorado State Representative, District 25 Capitol Phone: (303)866-2582 E-Mail: cheri.gerou.house@state.co.us

Daniel Kagan — Colorado State Representative, District 3 Capitol Phone: (303)866-2921 E-Mail: repkagan@gmail.com

John Kefalas — Colorado State Representative, District 52 Capitol Phone: 303-866-4569 E-Mail: john.kefalas.house@state.co.us

Jeanne Labuda — Colorado State Representative, District 1 Capitol Phone: (303)866-2966 E-Mail: jeanne.labuda.house@state.co.us

Ellen Roberts — Colorado State Representative, District 59
Capitol Phone: (303)866-2914 E-Mail: ellen.roberts.house@state.co.us

Ken Summers — Colorado State Representative, District 22
Capitol Phone: 303-866-2927 E-mail: ken.summers.house@state.co.us

Spencer Swalm — Colorado State Representative, District 37Capitol Phone: (303)866-5510 E-mail: spencer.swalm.house@state.co.us

Important Legislators to Contact

Debbie Benefield — Colorado State Representative, District 29
Capitol Phone: 303-866-2950 E-mail: debbie.benefield.house@state.co.us

Mark Ferrandino – Denver Colorado State Representative, District 2 Capitol Phone: (303)866-2911 E-Mail: mferrandino@yahoo.com

Kathleen Curry – Colorado State Representative, District 61
Capitol Phone: (303)866-2945 E-mail:  kathleen.curry.house@state.co.us

Randy Fischer – Deputy Majority Whip Colorado State Representative, District 53 Capitol Phone: (303)866-2917 E-Mail: randy.fischer.house@state.co.us

Bob Gardner — Colorado State Representative, District 21
Capitol Phone: (303)866-2191 E-Mail: bob.gardner.house@state.co.us

Kent Lambert — Colorado State Representative, District 14
Capitol Phone: (303)866-2937 E-Mail: rep.kent.lambert@comcast.net

Jack Pommer — Colorado State Representative, District 11
Capitol Phone: (303)866-2780 E-Mail: jack.pommer.house@state.co.us