Kentucky Governor Signs Bill Banning Breweries From Owning Distributors
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear recently signed into law HB-168, which prohibits breweries from owning distributors in Kentucky. The law has garnered mixed reviews from the public, but what does it mean for craft brewers looking to distribute their beer in Kentucky?
In theory, the new law provides for a more even playing field for craft brewers. Anheuser-Busch owns two distributors in the state and there appears to have been some concern that distributors owned by large breweries could hurt distribution of smaller local brewers. House Speaker Greg Stumbo stated that the purpose of the law was to create "a pristine three-tier system that mirrors what happens in distilled liquors and wine.” Many consider the law a victory for craft brewers in Kentucky, which is a group that has grown significantly in recent years.
Anheuser-Busch Director of Sales and Marketing Damon Williams took the opportunity to write an article in Louisville's Courier-Journal, arguing that "selfish interests" were put ahead of 200 jobs at their facilities.
Rhinegeist, a craft brewer in nearby Cincinnati, also got caught in the cross-fire after opening a distributor in Northern Kentucky in December 2014. Rhinegeist's Brewery Vice President stated that the brewery's new investment would likely have to close and that the brewery is "collateral damage" in a dispute between Anheuser-Busch and distributors of their products.