Groundbreaking Craft New York Act Turns Five

One of the most important pieces of legislation in the history of New York craft beer, the Craft New York Act, is turning five years old on December 13. Now, chances are you’ve never heard of the Craft NY Act, so let me describe it to you like this – if you’ve ever walked into your favorite brewery are ordered a pint, you can thank the Craft NY Act. Enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo on December 13, 2014, the Craft NY Act allows NY ‘craft producers to conduct tastings and serve ‘by the bottle’ and ‘by the glass’.’

In addition to allowing breweries to serve their beer by the glass, the Craft NY Act also lowers the food requirement that must be met by manufacturers when offering tastings and consumption on premises and reduces costs for small manufacturers by increasing the production cap and permitting the production of more product without increased fees, among others.

“New York produces some of the best wine, beer, spirits and cider in the world—an industry which not only creates jobs but supports farmers and brings in tourism dollars across every corner of the state,” Cuomo said at the time of the passing. “This new law builds upon this administration’s ongoing efforts to promote this industry by cutting red tape, reducing burdensome regulations and removing artificial barriers that stifled growth. New York is truly open for business, and I thank my partners in the legislature for their hard work in making this a success for all of our craft beverage businesses.”

You can toast to the Craft NY Act at Flying Bison on December 13th at 3:16 (and 17 seconds) pm, the exact time to the second five years after the legislation was passed in 2014. Get more information on that event here.

“The Craft Act helped transform NY into a leader in craft brewing instead of a follower. A look at the number of breweries pre-2014 and post 2014 will start to tell the story,” Flying Bison Brewing Owner Tim Herzog says. “Since the Craft Act, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of breweries, which need malted barley and hops. Farmers in NY are growing barley to be malted here in NY. Farmers in NY are growing hops and getting them dried here in NY so that more of the flavors of NY can make their way into the great beers being brewed. The rise in the number of jobs, in breweries, distilleries, malt houses, on farms and in stores and bars is on the rise; more wages and more tax paid to NYS. We hope they use it wisely.”

Flying Bison adds: “Why is that important to us? It was the law that not only recognized the importance of the craft brewing industry in New York State and made it easier to operate a small brewery, but it allowed brewery tasting rooms such as ours the opportunity to serve more than just tiny samples to thirsty patrons. A huge thank you to our Governor, NY State Assembly & NY State Senate for recognizing the economic & cultural significance of craft brewing. The day the Craft NY Act was signed, there were less than 200 breweries operating in New York. There are well over 400 today!”

From brewery owners to beer bar owners and everyone in-between, its clear that the Craft NY Act was, and is, pivotal in transforming the Western New York beer scene into what it has become today.

“Prior to the Craft Act, most NY brewers did not have their own taprooms,” Willard Brooks, founder of the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Association, says. “Subsequent to this, most or all have developed taprooms. This, along with the Farm Brewery License, has led to an expansion in the number of small breweries operation in NYS – approximately double the number are open now, most small. This model would not be sustainable without the taprooms that the craft act made possible.”

“The Craft Act supercharged the growth of the industry in NYS,” Community Beer Works President Ethan Cox adds. “Production-only breweries often struggle to generate enough revenue early on, so the ability to run a taproom and sell beer by the glass makes starting a brewery much easier. We are all grateful to the NYS BA and to Dave Katleski for making this happen. I can definitely say that when we put in the three-sink and bought glassware and just started selling beer by the pint at CBW, it made our growth possible, specifically. The vibe we created in that taproom [on Lafayette] can’t be replicated and is often missed, I know, and it was made entirely possible by the Craft Act. And was what we leveraged to make the new taproom.”

“New York breweries got a shot in the arm with some eased regulations and grants to promote Craft and Farm breweries with the NY Craft Act,” Pizza Plant Owner Dan Syracuse says. “So in all it has done well.”

“Any legislation that cuts down red tape, licensing Cost and taxes is huge for a small brewery,” Resurgence Brewing President Jeff Ware says. “As small business owners, we know how to stretch a dollar, and every dollar goes right back into new equipment and additional employees.”

“The Craft NY Act, which enacted several benefits for NYS alcoholic beverage producers, chiefly impacted the region by allowing producers to sell by the bottle and/or glass, and also lowering food requirements for producers that wanted to sell their products on premises,” Big Ditch President Matt Kahn adds. “These changes made the barrier to entry lower for a lot of breweries, resulting in increased growth in the number of area breweries over the last several years. This ultimately led to greater choices available to consumers, in addition to industry jobs created in the area.”

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.

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