The hot topic on the Maine beer scene right now is a piece of legislation that goes before the house on April 24, 2013. LD-1082 is a bill written by Eric Mihan, Owner of Bangor Wine and Cheese in Bangor, Maine and was presented by Senator Gratwick. The bill is “An act concerning the ability of Off-premises liquor licensees to dispense liquor in sealed refillable containers” basically the bill would allow businesses other than a brewery to fill growlers.
This isn’t a new concept in the least; states across the country allow Bottle shops, Bars, even grocery stores to fill growler for customers. This bill is would expand on the current liquor licenses that these shop owners currently hold and allow them to provide an expanded array of product to the consumer.
I reached out to Eric Mihan, owner of Bangor Wine and Cheese and Greg Norton, owner of the Bier Cellar in Portland, Maine and asked them a couple questions in regards to the new bill.
Q: Why is it important to you to have this legislation pass?
A: “We believe that allowing us to fill growlers at retail would give consumers access to beers that previously were not able to be brought home. We believe it would benefit small breweries as it would give them access to the retail market without requiring them to invest in a bottling line, which would increase cash flow to the breweries. It would benefit small business retailers because it would give us another means to be creative with our offerings to our customers. It would also make Maine more competitive as a destination for craft beer fans. Finally, we believe growlers are an environmentally friendly means of selling beer, as both the keg and the growler are reusable.” Greg Norton, Bier Cellar
A: “Because otherwise it makes Maine look like that cousin you only see at reunions, the one that got dropped on his head as a kid, who doesn’t talk and likes to pull up grass and put it in his ears. Seriously…this is being done EVERYWHERE. Maine NEEDS revenue. Hell, I need revenue. And this is just a good idea to broaden the license we already hold…I mean, Maine says I can sell wine and beer already. So how is this different?” Eric Mihan, Bangor Wine and Cheese
Q: How does it benefit your customers?
A: “TWO WORDS: Fresh beer. Two more: At home. Okay, some more: From breweries NEAR and FAR, some of whom don’t bottle in the first place.” Eric Mihan, Bangor Wine and Cheese
A: ” It would benefit our customers by giving them access to fresh beer that previously was not available to be brought home as more local small breweries are opening and delaying bottling due to the high cost of a bottling line.” Greg Norton, Bier Cellar
The benefits of this bill seem pretty straight forward, as a consumer we would have the ability to purchase beer from the bottle shop that may never be available in bottles, like one of those wonderful hard to find Oxbow offerings that might show up at Nocturnem on a Friday evening and sell out before we have the chance go to try it. It would allow us to purchase a growler of Marshall Wharf or Bunker Brewing right here in Bangor to enjoy in the comfort of our homes without having to spend the gas money to drive to Belfast or Portland. Brewers can distribute their product without the added expense of bottling and know that their product will still reach a thirsty audience who might not be out at the beer bars and would otherwise not get a chance to enjoy their product without a visit to the brewery.
Please voice your opinion, Tweet, Facebook, Blog, Shout but most importantly let your Senator or Representative know that you support LD 1082, call or email the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and if you can, attend the public hearing on April 24th, 2013 at the State House, Room 437.
I support LD 1082, how about you?