Senate Passes Brewers Compromise

by | Jul 30, 2020

The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation that resolves a decade-long distribution dispute between brewers and wholesalers in the Commonwealth.

The legislation, An Act Relative to Craft Brewers (S.2829), represents the agreement reached by The Massachusetts Brewers Guild, representing craft breweries, and the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts after good-faith negotiations encouraged by Spilka and her Senate colleagues.

“I am glad that after an extensive amount of negotiation between the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts we were able to unanimously pass this legislation,” said Senator Mike Moore (D-Millbury). “The beer industry continues to have growing importance in the Commonwealth, and this bill signals our dedication to this emerging sector by supporting brewers and the distributors, and ultimately providing for customers throughout the state.”

In Massachusetts, current law makes it difficult for a brewer to end a relationship with their distributor, jeopardizing potential growth. The compromise legislation (S.2829) would 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 would 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.

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