Great Falls Tribune: Daines bill taps into small-craft breweries

Sen. Steve Daines announced Tuesday two efforts to promote the growth of small-craft breweries.

The Montana Republican sponsored Senate Bill 1562, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which reduces the excise taxes on beer, wine and distilled spirits.

Also, Daines recently joined the bipartisan Senate Small Brewers Caucus, established in June 2011. It provides a forum for senators and their staffs to discuss issues important to small brewers.

He said small-craft breweries are a growing industry in Montana that has a significant impact on the state’s economy.

“Montana is home to a vibrant craft brewing industry that supports our robust barley growers and creates more good-paying jobs,” Daines stated. “I’m proud to support commonsense efforts and stand with our small brewers to help them grow their businesses in Montana’s communities.”

Daines met Tuesday with Montana beer and wine distributors to announce his efforts. Among them was Ardelle Watkins, president of Gusto Distributing Co. in Great Falls, Cathie Williamson, large store team leader of Eagle Beverage, and David Irwin, general manager of Eagle Beverage in Great Falls and Kristi Blazer, executive director and legal counsel of the Montana Beer and Wine Distributors Association.

Also meeting with Daines were Adam and Laura Decker of Briggs Distributing Co. in Billings and Mike Markovich, vice president of community relations for Summit Beverage of Missoula.

Montana brewers weighed in a Daines’ action.

“The reduction of the excise tax will allow small craft brewers to reinvest those dollars into equipment, education, and more jobs, which will better the communities where Montana breweries operate,” Josh Townsley of Tamarack Brewing.