small brew act

Congressman Dave Reichert visits Icicle Brewing

Congress is currently considering the Small BREW Act, which would cut the federal excise tax paid by “small” breweries in half. This change would only impact smaller breweries, not the mega breweries. We’ve posted other stories about it–check out our previous stories.

Congressman Dave Reichert, who represents Washington’s 8th District, recently visited Icicle Brewing in Leavenworth, where he met with the brewery’s owners, Oliver and Pamela Brulotte, to discuss the brewing business and the potential impact of the Small BREW Act. Reichert heard firsthand how the tax reduction would allow Icicle Brewing to grow its business and create jobs. There is a press release below with more information about the Congressman’s visit.

Small BREW Act

Currently, breweries pay a federal excise tax of $7 on every barrel of beer produced. The Small BREW Act would reduce that number to $3.50. This change would only impact “small” breweries: Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) would see the benefits but Anheuser-Busch would not. The nano-brewery down the street would pay the reduced rate but MillerCoors would not. The aim of the Act is to help breweries re-invest, grow their businesses, and create new jobs.

Two Opinions

Most brewery owners I’ve spoken with support the Small BREW Act, but support is not unanimous. I’ve heard valid points on both sides.

Opponents assert that the Small BREW Act only benefits larger craft breweries, and that the savings for smaller craft breweries are negligible. Still, a brewery owner wouldn’t likely look a gift horse in the mouth, whether the annual savings amount to $300,000 or $3,000.

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Supporters of the Small BREW Act point out that the craft beer industry is not alone in petitioning Congress for a change to beer taxes. Congress is also considering the Fair BEER Act, which proposes a different kind of tax restructuring, one that benefits all breweries, whether they be small, large, or humongous. The Fair BEER Act is actively supported by the likes of Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

So, proponents say, it’s one or the other: tax relief for us or tax relief for all, including the big guys. If the mega breweries are supporting something, it probably is NOT because it helps small breweries grow. Want to learn about the difference between the Small BREW Act and the Fair BEER Act, see our previous post on that topic. Also, the Seattle Times recently published an Op-Ed piece about the Small BREW Act that explains why so many craft breweries support it – read it here.

small brew act
Congressman Dave Reichert with Icicle Brewing Company owners Pamela and Oliver Brulotte,

The between BREW and BEER is gaining steam in Congress, which explains why people like Congressman Reichert’s are out and about visiting places like Icicle Brewing.

Press Release

On April 6th, Icicle Brewing Company hosted Congressman Dave Reichert (Washington State’s 8th Congressional District) as he visited their brewery to understand more about the effects of the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act (Small BREW Act).

The goal of the Small BREW Act is to cut the small brewer federal excise tax rate on the first 60,000 barrels from $7.00 to $3.50 per barrel. In 2014, Icicle Brewing Company averaged as the 18th largest beer producer in Washington State (out of 204) with 4,507 barrels of beer produced in that year. In their 4 years as a small craft brewery, Icicle Brewing Company’s beer production has grown 28.7%. At this rate, if this bill were to pass, the money saved would help afford Icicle Brewing Company room to grow through new jobs or equipment. The idea is that with the growth of these breweries, the taxes saved at first, will be made up through their expansion and taxes accrued from that growth.

Congressman Reichert (a member of the House Small Brewers Caucus) was invited to Icicle Brewing Company by owner Pamela Brulotte, an Executive Committee Board Member of the Washington Brewers Guild, to tour the brewery and help get a sense of how their brewery and local community of Leavenworth, Washington would benefit from the passing of this bill.

The acronym BREW in the bill’s name, which stands for “Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce”, was in full effect at Icicle Brewing upon the Congressman’s visit as he met 2 newly hired employees (1st day and 5th day) and was on hand while a new larger cold liquor tank was being installed.

Upon Congressman Reichert’s arrival, he was greeted by Pam and co-owner husband, Oliver Brulotte, and served a sample of their award winning Dark Persuasion German Chocolate Cake Ale.  His visit encompassed a tour of the tasting room and the Brewhouse where Icicle Brewing Company’s Lagers and Ales are made, visits with staff, sharing of personal stories, and a bit of brass tax (literally!). The discussion between the Congressman and the Brulottes regarding the Small BREW Act was educational for both parties and both seemed to walk away with a greater understanding of the beer, the bill, and the political process it will undergo.

The Brulotte’s and Congressman Reichert emphasized the need to continue the conversation between breweries and their local legislator, so that local, small craft breweries remain engaged in the political process. By doing so we can ensure that when people think of American-Made beer, they think of the community of local, small craft breweries!