City considers brewpubs

Tia Lynn Ivey News

Beer breweries and brewpubs have popped up in small towns all across America, becoming a significant asset to attract tourists and boost local economies.

After a request from a local restaurant, The City of Madison is considering changing a local ordinance to allow for brewpubs to set up shop within the city limits. During last Friday’s work session for Mayor and City Council, the council also expressed interest in altering the ordinance to possibly allow full breweries inside the City of Madison.

“We should explore all the possibilities, look into what other cities are doing, and see what we can do here,” said Councilwoman Chris Hodges. “I want to stay competitive.”

Under state laws, brew pubs have more restrictions on the selling and distribution of alcohol. While brew pubs can brew their own beer and sell other brands of beer and alcohol with the proper license, they are prohibited from selling kegs, bottles, or cans like a normal full brewery would be able to do.

According to The Brewer’s Association, “The basic concept of the brewpub, pairing beer and food made onsite, is neither new nor particularly novel – taverns have been making their own beer for centuries. Even so, the modern crop of American brewpubs have managed to put a new spin on the concept of beer and food, and in doing so have created economic value that extends beyond the two components independent from each other. That value can be seen clearly in the historical success rate of brewpubs. Since the Brewers Association started tracking in 1980 through 2014, 2,482 brewpubs opened in the United States and only 1,141 closed… a brew pub can hold a retail liquor license. A brew pub cannot only serve its own beer, but a brewpub can serve other breweries beers, distilled liquor, wine, all those different types of alcohol where a taproom – a brewery can only serve its own products.”

City Attorney Joe Reitman will present options for a new ordinance, which would allow new or existing restaurants to add small breweries onsite as well as allowing the sale of “growlers,” which are containers made for carrying out draft beer.

“State law has opened this up as an option,” said Reitman.

Hodges asked that Reitman look into allowing full breweries under the ordinance. “I am very pro-brewery,” said Hodges. “Other communities that do this are doing very well…Asheville is making a killing – there is a cottage industry up there with that.”

City Manager David Nunn expressed the need to take things slow and research the issue thoroughly before making any decisions.

“It would behoove us to find out everything we can about this and then we can come back and revisit the issue,” said Nunn.

Reitman told the council he would present proposed language this week to allow for brew pubs and continue looking into possible allowances for breweries.

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