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Udall Brings BEER Act Back For Another Round

Jim Hill

It’s a description you’ve heard before: Colorado is the ‘Napa Valley’ of beer. Democratic Senator Mark Udall wants to keep it that way.

Udall is reintroducing legislation to lower federal excise taxes for small and large brewers, the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief(BEER) Act of 2013. The bill would result in 90 percent of licensed breweries in Colorado paying zero dollars in federal excise taxes.

Udall believes it will allow breweries to reinvest those savings into building their businesses and the economy.

“These aren't your dad's beers, and we shouldn't discourage brewers from growing their businesses with an outdated excise tax," Udall said. "We need to help our brewers keep our pint glasses full and our economy strong. The BEER Act would give a shot in the arm to an important and growing industry in our state. My bipartisan bill would support established brewers, emerging craft brewers, and the many agriculture, manufacturing and business service sectors that benefit from our strong breweries."

Under the Senator’s plan, the excise tax on small brewers would be structured in a tiered system:

  • Excise tax for barrels 1 to 15,000 = $0, down from $7 under current law;
  • Excise tax for barrels 15,001 to 60,000 = $3.50, down from $7 under current law; and,
  • Excise tax for barrels above 60,000 = $9, down from $18 under current law.

This could be a significant savings for Colorado breweries. New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins projected they sold800,000 barrels of beer in 2012. And in a press release posted by beerpulse.com, Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont says it’s on track to produce 128,000 barrels this year. Both breweries recently announced expansion projects in North Carolina.

Udall promoted the BEER act last year during a visit to Avery Brewing Company in Boulder. The bill is co-sponsored by Colorado Senator Democrat Michael Bennet as well as Senators Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), David Vitter (R-Louisiana).

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