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Nebraska Craft Brewers and Distilleries Score Victories before the Legislature

on Wednesday, 27 April 2022 in Environmental Pulse: Vanessa A. Silke, Editor

LB 1236 gives craft brewers a limited right to self-distribute and store their beer offsite, and distilleries the right to have up to five locations. Vanessa Silke was instrumental in advocating for the bill’s enactment.

Following the Nebraska Legislature’s adjournment sine die on April 20, 2022, one bill that will prove fruitful to Nebraska’s burgeoning craft-brewery and distillery industries is LB 1236 (available here).

Senator John Lowe introduced LB 1236. Vanessa Silke, along with craft beer and distillery industry members, advocated for key changes to the bill and worked with legislators, industry members, and state regulators to secure new rights. The Legislature unanimously approved LB1236, and Governor Pete Ricketts signed the bill on April 18, 2022. The provisions of LB1236 will become effective in July, 2022.

Among other things, LB 1236 will grant craft brewers a limited right to self-distribute their beer. In any territory for which they do not already have a distribution agreement with a distributor, craft brewers can directly sell up to 250 barrels of their beer to licensed retailers per calendar year. In addition, craft brewers have the right to store and warehouse their products off site, subject to approval from the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission (“Commission”).

As the Nebraska Examiner reported recently, current law created unnecessary barriers to retail market access. For example, if distributors altogether declined to serve a craft brewer, that craft brewer was barred from entry to the retail market off of their licensed premises. LB 1236 is one important step in removing barriers to retail market access, and supporting competition and consumer choice.

Nebraska licensed distilleries also gained an important right to expand their licensed premises to up to five locations, referred to as “satellite locations”.  Distilleries have the right to directly distribute their distilled products to their licensed satellite locations without having to engage a distributor. 

The Legislature also enacted LB 1204 (available here), introduced by Senator Tom Briese. This bill modernizes the Commission’s issuance of licenses and other notices by electronic delivery. The Legislature unanimously passed LB 1204, and Governor Ricketts signed it on April 20, 2022. The provisions of LB1204 will become effective in July, 2022.

Baird Holm attorneys have significant experience counseling clients as to Nebraska’s liquor statutes, in addition to Vanessa Silke’s ongoing efforts to lobby for improved statutes and regulations to facilitate the growth of the craft beer and distillery industries. Please contact us if you have any questions.

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