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Mass. Breweries Push to Update Law They Say Hurts Business

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — The Massachusetts Brewers Guild has been working to update H267, a law that currently binds brewers to distributors, regardless of how well they work together.

“In Massachusetts, once you’re with a distributor, you’re pretty much locked into them. But if they don’t want to let you go, you have to go in front of the ABCC and try to petition yourself to be freed from them,” said Jay Hebert, President of the Paper City Brewing Company.

Hebert was too busy to go to Boston, but several other local members of the guild spoke to the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure at the State House Tuesday, who think time has run out on the 41-year-old law.

Hebert has experienced what it’s like to work with someone who doesn’t push their product, and agrees it gives wholesalers too much power.

“You can see sometimes some distributors will collect brands and shelve them. For some reason, if they don’t want to push you for one reason or another, they’ll just sit there and go stale. You won’t be able to get any product out,” Hebert stated.

Due to their size, Paper City is now able to distribute themselves.

Even so, the three employee company still wants to see those laws changed.

“I think before what happened is, when you’re dealing with the big, big companies that represent 90 percent of the beer sales, distributors didn’t want to lose them. The big breweries…they can play games and say ‘Do this, or we’re gonna go somewhere else.’ We’re so small, that the tables are turned on us,” said Hebert.

At this point, Hebert continues to distribute his blonde ales and IPAs locally, stretching as far as Worcester.

Herbert also says he’d like to expand to Boston, and continue selling in Connecticut again as well.

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