Gov. Cuomo Signs Bill Geared to Help Craft Breweries, Distilleries and Cideries

John Jordan | August 2015

ALBANY—Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Aug. 14 that will make business easier for craft beverage companies in New York State. The three measures will allow farm distilleries to sell gifts and souvenirs, authorize retail stores to conduct tastings of liquor, beer and cider, and exempt micro-breweries from redundant tax filing requirements.

“In every corner of the state, New York’s craft beverage industry is thriving and we’re committed to helping it further grow to create more jobs and more economic activity,” Gov. Cuomo said. “These measures will further cut red tape and will give breweries, cideries and distilleries greater opportunity to expand their businesses and get the word out about their world class products.”

Allows Farm Distilleries To Sell Gift Items

Prior to the bill, farm distillers were the only group among farm breweries, cideries and wineries that were not authorized to sell gift items, such as locally produced food and souvenirs. Now, they will be able to sell those items along with non-alcoholic beverages as well as liquor supplies and accessories.

New York State Senator George Amedore said, “New York’s beverage industry continues to grow, and we want to do everything possible to encourage further expansion. Under this new law, farm distilleries will be given the same opportunities that farm breweries, cideries, and wineries currently have to increase their revenue, encourage repeat customers, and improve their business by selling gift items. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing the disparity, and signing this legislation that will help our farm distilleries succeed.”

Authorizes Tastings at Retail Stores Without Presence Of Manufacturer

Additionally, retail stores that sell beer, cider and liquor will now be able to conduct tastings without the manufacturer or wholesaler present. Previously, a representative from the manufacturer or wholesaler of the product had to be present at the store and conduct the tasting. For many small businesses, this was an unaffordable expense and now, they will not be required to be present in order for their product to be sampled.

Exempts Micro-Breweries From Certain Tax-Filing Requirements

The third bill will exempt micro-breweries from certain tax requirements. These filing mandates put a burden on small businesses that are often not equipped to handle the data collection needed to comply with the law, state officials said. Most of the beer that they produce is already accounted for in distributor sales, making it a redundant task. Farm breweries are currently relieved from submitting the annual information sales tax return, and this law will allow micro-breweries that same exemption.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill said, “With over 200 breweries in operation accounting for more than 11,000 jobs, craft beer in New York is approaching a $4-billion enterprise. As New Yorkers increasingly gain interest in buying and consuming locally produced goods, we must continue to promote meaningful policies that ensure the success of this critical component to our state’s commerce and vibrant culture. Enacting this commonsense legislation will greatly assist our blossoming craft beverage industry by removing arduous reporting requirements so that these small businesses can spend more time practicing their trade instead of completing paperwork.”

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth