Richmond Register

Karyn Brandenburg gives her opinion on what's good at Dreaming Creek to Saul Wright while Jake Brandenburg watches t.v.

As Richmond's sole microbrewery, the owners and staff at Dreaming Creek Brewery care about supporting local, small businesses.

In their most recent endeavor to help that effort, co-owner and brewer Charley Hamilton has found himself at the Capitol in Frankfort representing not only his establishment, but others represented in the Kentucky Guild of Brewers.

As the organization's president, Hamilton, and a group of nearly 70 other local Kentucky breweries have introduced legislation addressing specifics of distribution required by state law.

According to Hamilton, the legislation known as Senate Bill 15, would give microbreweries the ability to self-distribute 2,500 barrels of their total 50,000 annual yield to licensed retailers.

Simply put, this bill would allow microbreweries such as DCB to help distribute their own product to other restaurants or retailers, in addition to the distributor companies.

"So for example if Bottles and Cases were to run out of our cans -- which they are right now -- we could just take some over there to them," Hamilton explained.

At present, distribution runs through a three-tiered system going from the microbrewery, to distributors, and then to the retailer.

While the proposed legislation would maintain that system still, it would give microbreweries the chance to supply some of their product closer to home in addition.

"Currently if somewhere local wants our beer, like Bottles and Cases or (Madison) Gardens, we have to sell it to the distributor who takes it to Northern Kentucky and it will be at least a week before the store would get the beer," he said. "The problem with that is time. We had two places that ran out of beer and we had beers canned so that we could take them, but right now, we cannot sell to them directly."

In addition to the assistance of distribution, SB 15 amends the current language of the existing act to make distributor-microbrewery contracts more equitable for both parties.

"Right now we are statutorily mandated to sign with distributors and some of those contracts are nearly impossible to get out of on our end of things, and this just cleans some of that up," he said.

Hamilton clarified that this proposed bill does not abolish the distributors or affect big-name breweries, but merely gives smaller outfits more ability to move inventory directly.

"We are mostly looking to fill things where there is a gap," he said.

Senate Bill 15 was approved with a vote of 34-to-2, and will go now to the House Committee for review. From there, the legislation will be reintroduced in the House and if it is read three times with no objections it will go to the House Floor for a final vote.

"It is looking good for that, but sometimes you can't tell when it comes down to the line," Hamilton said.

He added this bill would really prop up small businesses which are less than 1% of distributors' portfolios.

"They distribute a majority and they are doing great, but this will just help us get beers into other places that maybe they have not touched yet," Hamilton said.

But he, and other microbreweries across the commonwealth still need help from craft beer lovers to show their support of Senate Bill 15.

"We have had several calls and emails sent from some of our loyal customers," he said. "But it is hard right now because people can't really go to Frankfort and need to email or call the legislature and hope that they are able to respond.

"We need your support," he said.

To read the entirely of Senate Bill 15, visit apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/21rs/sb15.html.

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