Montana Legislature Debates Extending Brewery Hours

HELENA, Mont. (NMB) – If the Legislature passes a hotly debated bill, breweries could be open for two more hours, extending their closing time from 8 PM to 10 PM.

Tim Pierce with the UM Legislative News Service reports that Executive Director of the Montana Brewers Association Matt Leow was one of 15 supporters of House Bill 185 during its initial hearing Tuesday. He says Montana breweries rely on Montana industry, so selling more beer helps more than just breweries.

“When you buy a beer in a brewery, more of those dollars stay in the state and get re circulated here. It’s not just supporting jobs behind the bar. It’s supporting jobs on the other side of the wall, in the manufacturing side of that business. It’s supporting the Montana barley and hops growers. And it’s creating opportunity for folks to create new industries in this state that would not have been possible if we did not have this craft brewing industry here.”

John Iverson with Montana Tavern Association, who was one of the ten opponents to the bill, says breweries are manufacturers and not retailers, and giving them more hours takes away from bar business.

“This bill is not about economic growth, it’s an economic shift. The breweries that want to retail more beer want to have their cake and eat ours too.”

The House Business and Labor Committee did not immediately vote on the bill.

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