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Hutchinson microbrewery avoids dropping liquor license with plea to purchase meals

A Hutchinson microbrewery offered greater than $16,000 price of scorching canines and different meals Tuesday evening in defiance of antiquated Kansas liquor legal guidelines.

Sandhills Brewing, a microbrewery with two taprooms, was in peril of dropping its liquor license for the Hutchinson taproom due to Reno County necessities that a minimum of 30% in annual revenue comes from meals gross sales. With out the liquor license, the taproom would’ve been pressured to shut.

Pippin Williamson, who based Sandhills Brewing together with his brother and manages the Hutchinson location, mentioned he submitted the liquor license renewal request in early September. The license expires on Oct. 18, and the renewal course of normally takes a month.

For microbreweries like his, there are few good licensing choices obtainable. Opting to get licensed as a ingesting institution, which comes with the 30% meals sale rule, was Williamson’s most suitable choice, he mentioned.

The opposite decisions have been to license as a non-public membership, which might require the enterprise to function on a membership foundation and monitor buyer info, or to get a cereal malt beverage license, which might solely enable the enterprise to promote beer containing lower than 4% alcohol.

“It is simply incompatible with us as a enterprise,” he mentioned concerning the personal membership license. “If we have been going to lose our liquor license, we’d have opted to not go that route, even when it was our solely possibility.”

The Kansas Division of Alcohol and Beverage Management responded to the license renewal by asking the enterprise to submit a plan for growing meals gross sales, which the brewery complied with. However the state company knowledgeable Williamson on Monday that the plan was denied and the license would not be renewed.

Williamson mentioned he was blindsided by the information, particularly because the license was renewed two years in the past with no points, regardless of having solely 20% in meals gross sales earnings on the time.

“The most important factor that occurred that induced this to be such a shock: It is not a lot that they determined to implement the rule which they’d beforehand chosen to not implement; it is that they enforced it and gave completely no recourse in any way,” Williamson mentioned.

However on Tuesday, half an hour earlier than the taproom opened for the evening, he and different workers members realized there was a technique they may nonetheless handle to get their license renewed.

If the brewery managed to spice up its meals gross sales earlier than the tip of September, sufficient to fulfill the 30% requirement, Williamson might resubmit the license renewal request in October with the brand new meals sale numbers and meet all necessities.

The taproom sells gadgets like private pizzas, beef jerky, chips and different snacks. Prior to now 12 months, the enterprise had offered about $22,500 in meals gadgets. Now it might have to promote 70% of that revenue, round $14,700, in little greater than per week.

“That appeared somewhat bit like a Hail Mary, however theoretically doable,” Williamson mentioned.

After sending out an electronic mail concerning the taproom’s plight, brewery workers purchased tons of of scorching canines and ready to bake as many pizzas as attainable. Once they opened their doorways for the evening, Williamson mentioned, the group turnout was unbelievable. In 5 hours, the brewery offered $16,710 in meals, assembly its meals gross sales necessities for the yr.

“I am somewhat drained,” Williamson mentioned. “I have not slept very a lot however I really feel nice. The outpouring of assist and generosity from our group and our clients was overwhelming. Not solely did we’ve folks come out and vote with their wallets and their presence and their assist, we had those who got here out and volunteered hours of their time.”

“We offered mainly each single meals merchandise that we had within the constructing,” he added.

Whereas Williamson is pleased with native assist, he nonetheless believes native licensing legal guidelines are overly restrictive.

sixty-three counties within the state function with the 30% meals gross sales rule, in response to Kansas Division of Income 2021 information. The restriction was put into place by a Kansas legislation and voted on by particular person counties. For greater ingesting institutions, the 30% rule is not a difficulty, as most have full kitchens and devoted kitchen workers.

For smaller locations like Sandhills Brewing — which solely has three full-time workers and three part-time workers, not counting Williamson — the rule will be damaging.

Microbreweries additionally face further licensing necessities — they need to have a license to supply and promote beer to go, together with a ingesting institution license to promote the beer on premises. In 30% rule areas, microbreweries additionally need to have a meals gross sales license to fulfill the necessities of the ingesting institution license.

Williamson mentioned he spoke together with his native state legislator, Democratic Rep. Jason Probst, about efforts to alter present legal guidelines. Probst plans on addressing the problem with the Legislature.

“To me the construction and licensing and the regulatory surroundings for microbreweries is especially onerous,” Probst mentioned. “Particularly when that is a rising business. We’re seeing microbreweries pop up everywhere in the state. And I believe it is an business that we must always most likely take a look at find out how to knock down a few of these limitations in order that they do not have these restrictions in place which can be standing in the best way of their development.”

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