Text of MTA/MBA License Stacking Bill Released

At long last, the text of the Montana Tavern Association’s and Montana Brewers Association’s collaborative bill was released late Friday.  Industry members in all tiers (and craft beer fans) can finally judge the potential effect of the bill, something not previously possible despite months of press releases and other media correspondence touting broad based support.


As expected, the bill would allow breweries to directly purchase a retail license (from the open market in most areas), permitting them to have all the privileges of a regular bar.  Current retail locations (i.e. bars) would be allowed to obtain a brewery license (from the State).

The Montana Beer and Wine Distributors Association has already announced its opposition to the bill and intends to support an alternative proposal which would lift the current 10,000 bbl limit for on-premise sales at breweries.

In an attempt to counter the MBWDA’s opposition, the license stacking bill would allow breweries producing between 10,000 and 60,000 barrels per year to sell beer for on-premise consumption, but only if such sales do not exceed 500 bbls per year.  Many are already noting the dubious practical benefits of this provision.

The bill does contain a surprise.  All new applicants for brewery licenses would now be subject to the “determination of public convenience and necessity” requirements.  This process requires public notice, an opportunity for the public to protest the issuance of a license, and other regulatory considerations.  Retail licenses (bars, restaurants, etc.) are subject to these provisions, but they have never been applied to breweries. It’s a significant new regulatory burden that would apply to all new brewery licenses and, potentially, to a change in location for any existing brewery.

The bill is currently designated as LC1256 and will be assigned a different number once introduced in the House of Representatives. [1-27-14 UPDATE: The Bill is now known as HB 326.]  The text of the bill is available here. (Note the language is subject to change).

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2 thoughts on “Text of MTA/MBA License Stacking Bill Released

  1. I want to make certain that I am reading this correctly. So an existing brewery/brewery in planning can attempt to purchase a retail license, governed by the quota system, in the open market where they run into the 6 figures, while an existing retail locations to open add a brewery to their existing operations.

    Existing breweries producing over 10,000 BBL and up to 60,000 are limited to selling 500 BBL in the brewery taproom which is a fairly small amount. Can the brewery open a second/satellite location where the 500 BBL limit would not apply (I.e. Up to the 10,000 BBL ceiling again). Would one have to have equipment at the satellite brewery to produce additional beer or could you just have a taproom that served beer produced at the 10,000-60,000 BBL brewery?

    Absent purchasing a retail license which would presumably allow a brewery to be open the same number of hours as retail establishments, why didn’t the MBA push for longer, more reasonable hours for taproom operations?

    The “public conveniences and necessity” provision sounds like a can of worms. You can’t get TTB approval without first having a location. Sounds like you would certainly need to clear the PC&N hurdle well before you purchase/lease a building. How long will this take?

    This Bill is great for the existing, large breweries mainly in Western MT but offers little for smaller existing breweries and creates another potential barrier to entry.

  2. This is a bad bill that gives all of the advantages to existing quota license owners. The little give me was the insignificant 500 barrel sales for those over the 10000 limit. This has the looks over a back room deal to keep things as they are but let bars get breweries and limit any new competition. Throw this rubbish out and start over.

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