St.LouisPostDispatch- Missouri craft brewers scored a victory Tuesday in their fight over a proposal that would allow beermakers to lease coolers to stores.
Negotiators in the Missouri House and Senate removed language from legislation that the Missouri Small Brewers Guild said would give big brewers, including Anheuser-Busch, an unfair advantage in dictating what beers could be stocked in coolers if they’re leasing them to retailers.
The smaller brewing companies said that would limit access to their beer.
Negotiators working on Senate Bill 994 said they removed the cooler language because it could endanger other provisions of the measure.
“I think leaving that in kills the bill,” said Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, who is sponsoring language contained in the same legislation on behalf of winemakers in his district.
The move angered Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters, who has been pushing for the beer cooler proposal.
“It’s getting extremely frustrating, This has been four years in the making. This is a priority for me,” Cornejo said.
Cornejo said he would aggressively pursue the cooler proposal next year. The main Senate sponsor is Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, who is running for state treasurer.
Missouri’s three-tiered alcohol distribution system put in place following the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 requires brewers to contract with distributors, who then sell to retailers.
Allowing beermakers to provide refrigeration to retailers weakens that three-tiered system, said the guild’s president, Jeff Schrag, owner of Mother’s Brewing Co., a craft brewery in Springfield, Mo.
“Beer manufacturers haven’t been able to provide refrigeration to retailers since Prohibition,” Schrag told the Post-Dispatch, adding many smaller brewers wouldn’t have the resources to provide coolers to retailers. “If they can control refrigeration, they can dictate what goes into it. Craft beer would not have the same access.” ... MORE