Tennessee has a three-tier alcohol distribution system, which means that a producer must sell their beer to a wholesaler. Then, in order for a producer to sell their own beer, they must purchase it back from the wholesaler at an increased price plus a 17% wholesale tax, the highest such tax in the nation. Craft breweries struggle under this burden. Because they don’t buy or sell in the same bulk as the national breweries, the smaller ones actually pay more tax for their beers.
This tax not only limits the production of craft beer in Tennessee, it limits the consumers’ selection as well. Many smaller breweries won’t ship to Tennessee due to the tax. Dogfish Head out of Delaware used to but stopped in 2011.
The high wholesale tax is just one of the reasons the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild was formed in 2011. They hope to promote and protect craft brewing by working with legislators to reform both the tax and other laws pertaining to beer, but they need the public’s help.
The Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild is sponsoring an event this Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Yazoo Taproom, 910 Division Street, in Nashville. In addition to Yazoo, they’ll be serving several of Tennessee’s finest craft beers, such as those from Calfkiller, Chattanooga Brewing and Jackalope. Proceeds from the event will help fund the Guild’s efforts to reform beer taxes.
The Guild hopes the public will show up in great numbers, as they’ve invited both Tennessee legislators and the media, and a large turnout would demonstrate the public’s support of beer tax and law reform.
The event runs from 5-8 pm with a major announcement from the Guild, so be sure to arrive early.
If you believe the nation’s highest tax hurts local brewers, prohibits the growth of craft brewing in Tennessee and limits your selection, then be sure to plan a visit to the Yazoo Taproom at 5 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 30.