BOSTON (8/12/2020) – State Senator Walter F. Timilty joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate recently, to pass legislation that resolves a decade-long distribution dispute between brewers and wholesalers in the Commonwealth.

The legislation, An Act Relative to Craft Brewers represents the agreement reached by The Massachusetts Brewers Guild, representing craft breweries, and the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts.

“The craft brewing business here in Massachusetts has grown substantially. From a few dozen some 13 years ago, to now, where there are more than 200 operating breweries across the Commonwealth including brewpubs, farm-breweries, and manufacturers,” said Timilty. “It is imperative that we support local businesses and local jobs in this Covid-19 pandemic era and beyond. We must and will continue to do what we can in the State Senate to help our economy recover.”

In Massachusetts, current law makes it difficult for a brewer to end a relationship with their distributor, jeopardizing potential growth. The compromise legislation will allow a brewery that produces less than 250,000 barrels (or just over 3.4 million cases) a year to end their relationship with a distributor with a 30-day notice and other certain protections. If a distribution contract is terminated, the brewery will be responsible for fairly compensating the wholesaler the fair market value of the distribution rights, in addition to other costs, for inventory and marketing investments. The legislation calls for both parties to engage in an expedited arbitration process to resolve such issues.

Sam Hendler, President of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and co-founder of Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers said, “This agreement is a victory for the more than 200 craft breweries across Massachusetts that have become pillars of their communities, helping local economies to thrive and drawing tourism to new areas. It took the collective effort of our counterparts in the legislature, the brewing community and the wholesalers to ensure we are able to continue our work as craft brewers now and for years to come.”

Joe Salois, owner and president of Atlas Distributing Inc., Auburn, MA, said, “The Beer Distributors of Massachusetts are tremendously appreciative of the work, support, and leadership provided by Senate President Spilka in encouraging the Brewers Guild and the Beer Distributors to agree on franchise law reform that has been disputed for the past 10-years. The efforts, leadership, and uncompromising willingness to reach agreement by the brewers, distributors, and legislature was a driving force in this achievement.”

An Act Relative to Craft Brewers now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.

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