House Bill 2535 would increase the tax by about 10 cents per drink for large beer manufacturers. Right now, the tax is one of the lowest in the country, penciling out to less than 1 cent per drink. The proposal would exempt smaller home-grown breweries.Beer taxes are generally worrisome to breweries, because they cut into already razor-thin margins (at three fifty a pint, the retail value of a keg is nearly $900, but a brewery makes around a hundred). The first bill affects breweries producing 125,000 barrels or more, which is fairly low--within a few years, as many as four Oregon breweries could be producing that amount. The Senate bill isn't online yet, so I haven't seen whether it would rectify the power imbalance distributors enjoy. Let's hope.
Senate 502 would eliminate Oregon's beer distributor trade laws, which the legislators call "sweetheart" protections for the middle men. It would also allow grocers to use credit to pay for their beer deliveries -- a provision they've wanted for years from Salem. Rob Bovett, president of the Oregon Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, said he wants lawmakers to combine the two bills as a way to get retailers on board with a beer tax increase.
Update. The senate bill is now up, and it's no clearer. Here's a summary:
"Repeals laws relating to required contracts between suppliers and wholesalers of alcoholic beverages. Eliminates statutorily mandated exclusive territories for wholesalers of alcoholic beverages. Repeals other laws governing relationship between suppliers and wholesalers of alcoholic beverages."Inside info? Do tell.