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N.H. Craft Brewers Are Toasting a New Law that Eases Some Regulations

Gov. Sununu joins craft brewers inside a brewpub
Todd Bookman/NHPR
Gov. Sununu along with craft brewers celebrate the signing of SB125.

Flanked by tallboys, Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill with bipartisan support into law on Thursday that lifts a number of prohibitions on small beermakers.

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Along with allowing so-called nano brewers to now ship their products directly to residents, SB 125 also clears the way for brewers to operate a retail outlet to sell products to consumers.

During a signing ceremony inside Deciduous Brewing Company in Newmarket, owner Maryann Zagami welcomed the tight-knit industry into her pub.

“It’s just so wonderful to see our community together, and to see all of your faces,” Zagami said. “It has been a long year, this is great movement and progress for our industry.”

Craft brewing has grown into a $500 million industry in the state, employing over 4,700 workers. But Jeff Cozzens, president of the N.H. Brewers Associations and owner of Schilling Beer Company in Littleton, said while SB 125 is a good start, the state could still use further deregulation of craft breweries to compete with its neighbors.

“I think this industry is still behind when you look at Vermont or Massachusetts or Maine, really across the board,” Cozzens said. “Really our goal in the Brewers Association is to eliminate that lack of parity.”

Sununu signed the legislation before toasting the brewers.

“You’re all inventors, you are all innovators. You are all entrepreneurs,” Sununu said. “You’ve created an entire industry.”

The new law also clears the way for craft brewers to enter into contracts with other brewers for products and lifts a cap on how many cases of beer a brewpub can sell to an individual customer.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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