Changing the way Washington breweries sell beer at farmers markets


The Washington Brewers Guild has been busy lately, working with legislators in Olympia to pass some common sense beer laws like this one, which changes the way breweries can sell beer at farmers markets. (See our previous story.)

A few years ago it became legal for Washington breweries to serve samples and sell beer at farmers markets. Though you can get a taste of the beer, and perhaps buy a bottle of it, you can not get a growler filled at a farmers market. Hopefully that is about to change.

The local farmers market is a good revenue stream for many young breweries, and some not-so-young breweries too. For breweries like Propolis Brewing, Atwood Ales, and Four Horsemen Brewing, the local farmers markets have proven to be important parts of the business. Not only does it provide an avenue for sales, but it introduces a brewery to a community. It’s a great way for a brewery to engage face-to-face with potential customers.

A bill now under consideration by the legislature would allow breweries to fill and sell growlers at farmers markets. This also extends to cider and mead producers. Also, it would repeal a strong beer prohibition that forbade breweries from selling stronger beers (over 8 percent ABV) at farmers markets. And that aint all. The new law would also specifically allow the sale of beer in cans. Currently, the beer at farmers markets law is unclear on that issue.

It was Dominique Torgerson at Four Horsemen Brewing that initiated the action and got the ball rolling. As I mentioned, Four Horsemen Brewing is one of the breweries that has used farmers markets as way share its beers with the world. Torgerson is responsible for introducing the idea to Representative Mark Hargrove (R-47), who sponsored the bill. Once the idea was in p lace, Hargrove contacted the Washington Brewers Guild to assure that the bill would have larger industry support.

“Four Horsemen had a great idea, worked with their legislator to develop a bill and get it introduced, traveled to Olympia to testify and work the legislative process,” says Annie McGrath, Executive Director of the Washington Brewers Guild. “It’s awesome, and we love that our state’s breweries have that passion and dedication.”

“The Washington Brewers Guild was happy to work with the sponsor and support this bill,” says McGrath. “Allowing growler fills at Farmer’s Markets gives our state’s smallest brewers a new outlet to reach customers directly. Right now, if you’re not a packaging brewery, participating in farmer’s markets doesn’t make a lot of sense for you. HB 2419 would open this opportunity to all Washington breweries wanting to connect with beer enthusiasts at their local markets.”

The law as it stands now requires that a brewery package its beer in order to sell it at a farmers market. Many smaller breweries do not package their beer and only offer it as a draft product. This new law hopes to benefit such breweries.

HB 2419 recently passed in the House with a 78-17 vote and has been referred to the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.

If this bill needs any assistance moving along, we will be sure to let you know how you can help.



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