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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Brewers Dump Suds in Milwaukee River as Part of Protest

Like the Patriots who dumped tea in the Boston Harbor in 1773, a group of Wisconsin brewers dumped beer in the Milwaukee River on Tuesday in protest of a proposed state law that they say is unfair to breweries.

The brewers are upset by a proposed Wisconsin Senate bill they claim would make things more difficult for start up breweries. The state lawmakers are attempting to update some post-Prohibition era laws. The proposed law would divide small brewers into two classes: brewpubs serving food and those who want to bottle and distribute their product.

The brewers say forcing a craft brewer to decide the ultimate direction of their brewery before the first pint is brewed is not fair and could destroy a business before it gets off the ground. The brewers protest was over the loss of freedom to make a business decision six months or six years into the life of a craft brewery to change directions and follow the market trends.

The revisions to the current law started because it only allows brewpub owners to have two locations that sell their own beer. When the Great Dane Pub opened a third Madison location it had to sell beer from other breweries.

State Sen. Fred Risser of Madison, who sponsored the bill that the Wisconsin brewers were protesting, is said to be authoring some amendments to the proposal. However, the brewers said they feared the bill, first introduced on July 3rd and headed to a committee vote today, is being expedited through the Senate without a chance for public comment.

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