WA Brewers Guild Sour on Initiative 1100 – But Is It Just Fear?

The voice of Washington brewers has spoken: No on Initiative 1100

***This article was originally published on BeerBlotter.com, a Seattle based beer blog where I regularly provide commentary on beer law.***


I want to take a quick moment and point to Seattle Beer News‘ latest article on Initiative 1100, the proposed bill to privatize liquor sales and deregulate alcohol sales in the State of Washington. We briefly discussed this in the past, posting an article from BreweryLaw.com.

The author at Seattle Beer News, Geoff Kaiser, wrote a think piece about the new proposition, considering the Washington Brewers Guild. The Guild recently released a presser openly opposing the proposed legislation, citing concerns that I-1100 is the greatest threat the Washington craft brewing industry has experienced in a decade.”

I first want to applaud Geoff for his very honest portrayal of the tug and pull he is experiencing on the issue. Truly, he is correct to say that there are many arguments to be made in support of, and in opposition to, Initiative 1100.

Similarly, Kendall Jones of Washington Beer Blog wrote an article - supporting the Guild. Kendall was very clear to state that there are a lot of reasons to support and to oppose the bill, but that his heart is with the Guild. His summary: educate yourself and then you can make a good decision when you vote.

Chiefly, Washington brewers are focusing on the fear that an open marketplace allows massive beer sellers (Costco, Binnys, MillerCoors, etc.) free reign to cause disruption to the beer market in Washington.

Of course, the Guild is correct to state that passage of deregulation opens up the market and can cause disruption. But, as an open market fan, you certainly hope that opens opportunities to all people and businesses. New businesses develop, new jobs are created, more buyers are available, and consumerism grows.

The key in deregulation is to find your niche, become innovative and be more efficient. California has been very successful in scaling back regulation and letting brewers brew and sell. The California beer industry continues to grow and prosper.

I am not going to tell anyone how to vote. But, please read the Brewers Guild position, because you should see both the good and the bad of I-1100 before you decide to vote. Brewers know the business and their opinion should resonate well in the beer community. But, fear can be blinding.

For more information on the proposed legislation, please visit Modernize Washington. For full disclosure, this is the organization who is backing the initiative.


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