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Editorial: Trouble brewing in the House

House Bill 275, which is scheduled to be heard by the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee tomorrow, would create a pilot program to allow some state liquor stores to sell beer made by New Hampshire’s small breweries. The bill is a well-meaning attempt to promote the growing microbrewery and nanobrewery industry by putting their products in state-run stores heavily patronized by tourists.

But it would promote the brewing industry at the expense of struggling businesses that are important to the state’s quality of life: independently-owned convenience stores.

Also harmed would be the growing number of outlets that specialize in selling a large selection of beers.

The brewery industry is of two minds on the proposal. Brewers would savor the opportunity to put their wares in front of a new audience, but they fear that small outlets couldn’t compete with state store prices. Some small stores might stop carrying craft beers. And since beer sales are crucial to the success of neighborhood stores, some might close.

That’s our fear, too. The bill has the potential to tap a keg of trouble. The committee should find it inexpedient to legislate.

Instead of selling the beers of New Hampshire craft brewers, the liquor commission should work with that industry to promote its products, perhaps by offering discount coupons and directions to breweries and outlets that carries a wide selection of New Hampshire-made beers. That would get travelers off the highway and into towns which would benefit all businesses, not just brewers.

Legacy Comments2

The state already has a nice map detailing the State's breweries (http://www.visitnh.gov/uploads/itineraries/Updated-May-2011/Brewery-Map-revised-May2011.pdf). I think promoting visits to the breweries themselves is a much better idea. Besides, the state already determined the the profit margin is much smaller on beer than wine or liquor, so why go through all the trouble to make less money? I say simply promote them with signage, along with local farms/cheese producers and wineries.

I guess fair trade and competition is out the window. These stores want to lock out the competition (the state) forcing higher prices on the consumer. They want their business to expand but not allow another by law. And then of course, those business are fine with the state using tax payer dollars to "direct" business to their shops. Rather than every person paying higher taxes to run advertising campaigns for the all corner market stores, how about I keep my tax dollar and pay a lower price for the beer from the start.

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