Bill would allow more microdistillery tasting rooms

The General Affairs Committee heard testimony Jan. 31 on a bill that would allow Nebraska microdistilleries — entities that make their own whiskey, gin and other spirits — to operate up to five tasting rooms. Current law limits holders of a microdistillery license to one tasting room.

Kearney Sen. John Lowe said he introduced LB900 because breweries in the state are allowed to operate up to five taprooms and other industries should be able to benefit in the same way.

“This has allowed many breweries to expand and grow our state,” Lowe said. “I believe it is time for the same opportunities for microdistilleries.”

Cody Schmick of Kinkaider Brewing testified in support of the bill. He said he also is a partner in the state’s first licensed distillery, located in Lincoln. Nebraska brewery owners currently can move beer and cider between their licensed taproom locations without a distributor if those locations have identical ownership structures, he said.

“We are asking [the Legislature] to catch up the craft distilling industry with the craft beer industry and align that five-taproom law,” Schmick said.

Laura Ebke, representing the Platte Institute, also testified in support. Government sometimes erects barriers to small business growth and opportunity, she said, and removal of the current tasting room cap would be a “modest” step in allowing microdistillery expansion.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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