Montanans love their brewery taprooms and with 85 of them now dotting the state, they’ve become ubiquitous, unpretentious community centers where all walks of life gather to unwind in a celebration of small business, daily life, and tasty beverages.
One thing Montanans have not loved about their brewery taprooms is the limitations imposed by the Legislature in the 1999 compromise that allowed breweries to begin on-premise sales: a maximum of 48 ounces per person, per day, and only between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
That could change soon if the Montana Legislature approves a bill designed to make a single change to the current limitations. Representative Dave Fern (D – Whitefish) introduced House Bill 185 on Monday to extend the taproom hours to 10:00 p.m. The Bill proposes an immediate effective date.
HB 185 was referred to the House Business and Labor Committee for a hearing on February 5, 2019, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in room 172 of the Montana State Capitol building.
The 2017 Legislature made other adjustments to the brewery taproom regulations by raising the annual production cap from 10,000 bbl to 60,000 bbl, but limiting the total amount of sales for on-premise consumption to 2,000 bbl per year. The change allowed Bayern Brewing to increase production without eliminating its taproom, allowed Big Sky Brewing to have on-premise sales for the first time in its 23-year history, and allowed KettleHouse Brewing to add a taproom to its Bonner location.