WASHINGTON, D.C. (09/25/2013) - Craft breweries are becoming more popular in Northwest Ohio and across the country.
According the Brewers Association, the industry grew by 15-percent between 2011 and 2012. But lawmakers on Capitol Hill say there's something holding them back from really being able to compete with the big names in beer.
"The United States is the country in the world that has the highest amount of beers – the most craft beers in the world," said Neal Kovacik, general manager at Maumee Bay Brewing Company, which is adding to that statistic.
The microbrewery now produces about two thousand barrels of beer a year.
"Our brewing has gone up 200-300 percent every year with the interest in craft beer nationally now," said Kovacik.
But with all that beer comes an hefty excise tax -- $7 a barrel.
"We're struggling with it. That's what it is, and we have to deal with it," he said.
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) says the guidelines for what's considered a small brewery, and the tax associated with it, has been same since 1976, even though the beer industry has grown significantly.
So he's co-sponsoring The Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act, also known as the Small BREW Act.
"What we're trying to do is make those small firms more competitive by dropping the excise tax on beer," said Casey.
Specifically, the bill would cut the excise tax in half -- to $3.50 for their first 60,000 barrels produced. It would also redefine small breweries as producing six million barrels a year, instead of two.
"Harvard did a study which showed that the economic impact of reducing the excise tax is rather substantial, and is a job creator – both in the first year or two, and even over time," explained Casey.
Kovacik said, "Any help in that respect would be an investment in creating more jobs, selling more product, and doing more commerce locally."
Right now, the Small BREW Act has 32 co-sponsors in the Senate – Democrat and Republican – including Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
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