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Where Beer & Wine Are Sold Topic At Statehouse

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) — Tuesday was a brewing day at Ipswich Brewing.

They are gearing up for a busy summer season, and one that could be that much busier with the passage of a change to state law. The new law would let Ipswich and all small breweries get more control over where they sell their beer.

Right now, brewers say their distributors have too much of the power.

“It’s all about making it easier to sell the product, and better to sell it,” explained Jim Dorau, the operations manager at Ipswich. “It’s a big difference to us, definitely.

“When you have a distributor that’s hard to work with, or they’re not interested really in selling your beer, it’s very hard to get out,” he said.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports.

According to Dorau, smaller local brewers like Ipswich might fall out of favor with a distributor for one reason or another, leaving the brewery locked into a contract but out of a given market.

Not so, says Jessica DiMartino, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Beer Distributors, Inc.

“The beer distributors,” she said, “have no incentive to over-control anything. They have good relationships with their suppliers. They’re not out to do any damage those relationships; they value them.”

Nevertheless, for Ipswich Brewing, it’s a matter of getting their products in front of as many as consumers as possible.

That’s the same goal as the other big piece of legislation on Beacon Hill: getting beer and wine into more grocery stores.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports.

“If we could get, particularly, beer and wine into some more grocery-type of locations, like frankly is the norm in most of the rest of the country, it would be pro-consumer, it would be more choice,” said Jon Hurst, president of the Massachusetts Retailers Association.

Hurst was one of dozens of people who testified at the State House Tuesday on the proposal to allow Bay State supermarket chains to have up to 20 liquor licenses statewide, instead of just three.

“It’s good for the state, it’s good for sellers, good for workers, and most importantly it’s good for consumers,” added Hurst.

The plan could also make a lot of liquor stores unhappy because of the threat of increased competition.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey also reports on the push to be able to order wine online.


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