New Nevada Law Expands Craft Beer Production

Nevada craft breweries will be able to brew a lot more beer thanks to a new law. But it also puts limits on retail sales.

Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law Assembly Bill 431 on June 5, which increases the amount a pub can make from 15,000 barrels per calendar year to 40,000 barrels.

The breweries had pushed for the cap to be 60,000 in a separate Senate bill, but had to negotiate up to 40,000, said Wyndee Forrest, owner and founder of CraftHaus Brewery, as well as a member of the Nevada Craft Brewers Association Board of Directors.

“The way it hurts breweries as well is that we now have a retail cap in our outlets,” she said. “…It was that 15,000 barrel cap. And now we can’t sell more than 5,000 barrels a year to the community.”

The new production cap of 40,000 barrels remains lower than many neighboring states. Forrest said Nevada as a whole is behind much of the country for craft brews, but that’s slowly changing.

“I think Nevada lags behind other states because our craft beer scene lags behind other states,” she said. “We are starting to grow our craft brewing community and our craft brewing culture.”

One thing that is changing is that more and more tourists are starting to request local beers when visiting Las Vegas. More and more places on the Las Vegas Strip and in downtown Las Vegas now offer beers from breweries in the valley.

“It’s great to see that there is now a demand for Made in Nevada products on the Las Vegas Strip, whether it’s beer, liquor or wine,” Forrest said.

Local breweries, wineries and distilleries also hoped to sell more of their products directly at events, but that remains a work in progress.

When Sandoval signed AB 431 earlier this month, he noted that the bill allows breweries and distilleries to sell more of their products at festivals and farmers’ markets.

However, Forrest said breweries can sell their product directly to the event holder, but not sell it themselves at the event.

“It only allows the brewery to transport the alcohol directly to this event,” Forrest said. “It doesn’t allow us to have direct sales to members of our community in this farmers market setting or this one-day event.”

But despite the setbacks, Forrest said AB 431 is still making progress.

“I see the bill passed, AB 431, as a positive step in the right direction,” she said. “Last session, when the breweries came up with a bill to raise the cap, it didn’t even come to a vote.”

Congresswoman Irene Bustamante Adams (D-Las Vegas) introduced the bill while Sen. James Settelmeyer (R-Gardnerville) was co-sponsor in the Senate. The bill passed unanimously in both houses of the legislature.

“That will keep the momentum going for the next session where we can iron out some of the things that aren’t so restrictive for our industry,” Forrest said.

She also said the community should ask for local beers and also reach out to their legislators to tell them that local products are important.

“Our community needs to let our legislators know that this is important to them,” Forrest said. “That way you can reach out to your legislators and let them know you’d like to see more Nevada-made products, whether it’s beer, wine or spirits.”

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