Saturday, March 07, 2015

Gibson: With House Bill 168, "Kentucky finally rights a wrong."

I'll be the first to admit that last year, when AB-InBev first proposed buying the Owensboro wholesaler, it was a muddled story. Kevin Gibson and I spoke about it, and it was probably the least enlightened I've ever been on a topic this important.

It seemed inordinately complex at first, but in the end, it was very simple. After all, if the three-tier system in America is axiomatic, with exceptions in some states granted only to small producers, then playing fields need to be level. Once the legislature's powers-that-be indicated that small brewery self-distribution was off the table, then this was the next best outcome.

There may yet be lawsuits, and it's a bit ominous to me that Kentucky brewers were compelled to differ with Ohio's Rhinegeist (a fellow traveler by any measure) in order to pursue their own best interests.

So it goes. The legislative process is like that. Meanwhile, Kevin's analysis at Insider Louisville is straight to the point.

Opinion: In approval of ‘Beer Bill,’ Kentucky finally rights a wrong

... All the controversy and scuttlebutt the past few weeks over House Bill 168, aka the “Beer Bill,” bordered on ridiculous. I found myself confused over the entire issue, because, to me, it came down to one simple question: Do we have a three-tier system of alcohol distribution, or don’t we?

If we do, then the obvious action was to block A-B InBev (or any brewery) from being able to distribute its own products in Kentucky. That’s why there is a separation between supplier, distributor and retailer in the first place (thanks, Prohibition). If we don’t have a three-tier system, well, then it’s open season — all Kentucky breweries should be empowered to sell and distribute their products as they see fit. But a long-existing loophole enabled out-of-state brewers to distribute in Kentucky while in-state breweries could not.

No comments: