COLUMN: Craft breweries, tourism and agriculture assisted by new law

— New York state is renowned for its wineries. The Finger Lakes region is on par with Napa Valley in California and other top-ten destination points in our country acknowledged for their arbors’ offerings. Many national and international publications have highlighted the region’s landscapes, fresh water lakes and rich soils that lend themselves to award-winning wines. Tourists visit here to taste the bounty and take in the views offered on a number of trails before going back home.

The success of local wineries was part of a collaborative effort that began in 1976, when New York state passed the Farm Winery Act. This helped spur the growth of New York State wine production. Since then, more than 200 farm wineries have been created and the amount of wineries has tripled.

During the last legislative session, our craft and farm brewery businesses were assisted in a similar way. I was pleased to support these measures in the Assembly. They were signed into law this summer. They will all work to make brewing beer in this state easier and more economical for the business owners, which will have multiplier effects throughout their local communities. There are nearly 100 craft breweries in New York state, according to the New York State Brewer’s Association. You can find a map of craft brewery locations using this link: thinknydrinkny.com/NYSBA_Brochure_INSIDE.pdf.

Here are a few ways breweries were assisted thanks to laws that worked last session to make our state friendlier to businesses and agriculture. I’m glad to see such measures pass:

  • Created a Farm Brewery License to allow craft breweries to operate similarly to wineries. This will enable breweries to sell NYS labeled beer, wine and liquor at their retail outlets. In addition, farm wineries and distilleries will be able to sell NYS labeled beer for off-premise consumption.
  • Breweries may also open restaurants and conduct tastings of NYS labeled beer at any restaurants, conference centers, inns, bed and breakfasts or hotels that the brewer may own.
  • Selling related products such as beer-making equipment, souvenir items and food is also permitted.
  • Any brewery that produces less than 60 million gallons of beer will be eligible for a tax credit. This was significant for the industry, as a court case earlier this year challenged a similar exemption. This law reinstated the exemption.
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