Local brewers, lawmakers weigh in on distribution regulation - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Local brewers, lawmakers weigh in on distribution regulation


Reports of a plan to prohibit craft breweries and wineries from selling their products on site has local establishments concerned.

"What's going on here is an attempt to possibly eliminate the entrepreneurial aspect of being in business," said Michael Zamzow, owner of Bull Falls Brewery in Wausau. "I'm not sure what we're trying to fix here exactly."

The plan, which was leaked in a memo, would force beer and wine producers to work solely with distributors, eliminating their ability to sell directly to customers.

"And if you don't have any way for people to come and enjoy the beer and taste it," said Zamzow. "It would be very difficult for us to grow our company."

State Sen. Patrick Testin (R-24) agrees.

"For me personally, I have some serious concerns about that," he said. "It could potentially threaten them, not being able to do business in the very state they invested a lot of capitol in. That whole industry is vibrant here in the state of Wisconsin."

Additionally, Zamzow and Testin said they are upset that the move wasn't well publicized, and not all parties were involved.

"It's hard to negotiate any changes in the three tiers if only two out of the three tiers are invited to the negotiating table," said Testin.

At this point, it's unclear what the benefit of the plan is. 

There were reports the Tavern League of Wisconsin approved of the plan, but the group released the following statement to Newsline 9 Monday saying otherwise.

There has been a lot of discussion and erroneous press reports concerning three tier issues and the Tavern League position.  The Tavern League is not supporting or opposing any legislative proposal at this time.  If legislation is proposed we will review it to make certain it benefits our membership before offering our support.  A fair three tier system is especially critical to the success of small retailers and small brewers.  The idea that we would support legislative changes that would negatively impact small brewers is crazy.  We will continue to look out for the interests of our membership and to support a system that is fair and equitable to retailers. 

- Tavern League of Wisconsin

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