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Colorado Legislature Helps Craft Breweries Bounce Back

Colorado Brewers Guild
Scott Grossman

The Colorado legislature ended their 2021 session in early June, having passed four bills that will help Colorado craft breweries recover from the pandemic and grow. Several bills take effect near-term, while others roll into place later in the year. Additionally, two of the bills will give craft beer lovers more options to get ahold of their favorites.

A key participant in these wins, the Colorado Brewers Guild (CBG), provided enthusiastic support as they advocated for the bills’ passage. Said CBG Executive Director Shawnee Adelson, “on all of [the bills] we worked with other stakeholders and state legislators to ensure the bills would be favorable for craft breweries.”

The Colorado Brewers Guild is a nonprofit trade association with the mission to promote, protect and propel independent craft breweries. All four of these bills advance those objectives.

Short and Long Term Help

The bills cover a broad spectrum, from immediate financial assistance to breweries to longer-term objectives that benefit both breweries and craft beer lovers.

Explained Adelson, “All of these bills have the potential to help breweries recover from the pandemic. However, the impacts are all different. For example, the sales tax retention will give them immediate financial benefit, but it has a short term effect. While the festival permit is permanent and will have a long term impact on brewery operations and options for events.”

Colorado Brewers Guild
Shawnee Adelson, Executive Director, Colorado Brewers Guild. Photo Courtesy of CBG

To best understand how these four bills will help breweries and consumers, it’s important to look a little further into the details.

1: Alcohol Beverage Takeout and Delivery

This bill is the easiest to grasp for beer lovers. It extends for four more years the pandemic-era experiment allowing to-go alcohol and delivery from licensed establishments including breweries.

2: Alcohol Beverage Festival Tastings And Sales

This bill makes licensed breweries and brewpubs eligible for festival permits. These permits will make it easier for breweries to take part in public festivals, as wineries have done for years. Breweries will have the same privileges they currently enjoy under their permanent license, such as selling samples and to-go beer.

This bill has been a long-time priority of the CBG. “We have been actively advocating for this change for three years and it’s great to see that it passed with little opposition,” said Adelson. “Without a doubt, this bill will help breweries rebuild and recover more quickly from the pandemic.”

3: Retain Sales Tax For Assistance

This bill allows businesses to hold on to sales tax to help offset lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brewery taprooms and brew pubs can retain a portion of their sales tax collected in June, July and August 2021.Beer and Money

4: Meeting And Events Incentive Program

The program allows for partial rebates of the hard costs of an event that brings in 25 paid overnight stays between July 1, 2021, and December 31, 2022. It may also offer partial rebates of costs that are directly related to complying with COVID-19 public health orders or mandates. Brewery events and anniversaries meeting the overnight-stay threshold can qualify for these rebates.

Colorado Brewers Guild

With over 400 members throughout the state of Colorado, the CBG is one of the prime boosters of the state’s craft beer industry. The industry makes a huge contribution to the state’s economy and quality of life. According to the Brewers Association, as recently as 2019 craft beer had a $3.35 billion economic impact. On the production side, things worked out to 6.8 gallons of beer consumed per drinking-age Coloradoan.

While a number of breweries closed during the pandemic, numerous new breweries also opened. The hope is that these bills will provide another tool for existing breweries to regain their footing and for new breweries to come out strong. “Every year the CBG is actively engaged at the capitol to support our member breweries. We are pleased that these bills were passed and will provide breweries with some relief after a very tough 16 months,” said Adelson.

Featured Image courtesy of Brewtography Project

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