SB 604, introduced by Senator Jeffrey L. McWaters and Senator William M. Stanley Jr., gives brewery license holders permission to sell their beer for on-premise consumption where it is made. At present, Virginia breweries that do not have a full service restaurant (brewpubs) have been limited to offering free samples, and selling beer to go. The bill was amended once by a House sub-committee to specify that breweries can only sell brands they own (this law is currently in place for Virginia commercial breweries, so I believe the amendment just provided clarity to lawmakers), and ultimately passed the House floor on March 1, 2012 with 99 yeas and 0 nays, and the amended bill passed the Senate floor on March 5, 2012 with 38 yeas and 1 nay. The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2012. Read the full language of the bill here: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?121+ful+SB604
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The ability to sell beer for on-premise consumption has worked extremely well as a way to enhance beer culture in other states, like neighboring North Carolina. As evidence, Ashville has been named “Beer City USA” three years straight, and has become a major tourist destination for an ever growing population of craft beer lovers. Further, North Carolina was selected as the location for Sierra Nevada’s east coast satellite brewery, and is a front-runner in New Belgium’s search for an east coast site. With more breweries from the western part of the country looking to expand to the east coast, more favorable beer laws will certainly make Virginia more competitive in attracting $20M - $100M+ expansion projects that will create a great deal of new jobs in a rapidly growing industry.This brings Virginia breweries closer to parity with Virginia's wineries, which long ago lobbied for this same privilege. Congratulations to the Virginia Craft Brewer’s Guild for their efforts in getting this legislation passed.
See "SB 604 has Passed! What this Means for Virginia Beer" for more information.