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You are here Most Popular MULBERRY HILL, NEW YORK — Could there be a microbrewery in each of the nation’s 50 states? Last night at the Market Carts of America in Manhattan, a group of beer enthusiasts gathered to contemplate the possibility at a panel discussion called “Is microbrewery statehood feasible?” Judging from their reactions, the answer might be yes. The panel of experts, which included Ale Smith founder Kelly Jones, Belmont Hills Brewing Co. founder Greg Burghardt, and James Petruzzelli, formerly of Restaurant Milano, also included John Neffinger of Growlers Brew Company and H. G. MacBeth of Redbud Premium Malt. “Why are we doing this?” he asked. “If the numbers are going to break our way, this is really what’s going to happen.” Almost all of the participants believe that there is a strong possibility of statehood for microbreweries. But they agree that major hurdles must be overcome. These hurdles include: Getting adequate taxation laws in place Getting adequate access to the wholesale and retail distribution markets Creating a viable business plan that takes into consideration scale and development costs MacBeth observed that it costs on average $1.5 million for a small craft brewer to be able to scale and grow to a point where the business is profitable. To address these challenges, the panelists agreed on several key areas: Adequate taxation is needed at the state level to encourage consumers to purchase products made locally. According to the Beer Institute, only two states — Oregon and Washington — levy a tax on microbrewers at this point. Access to wholesale and retail distribution is crucial. In almost every state, there are only a handful of distributors of craft beer. As a result, all craft brewers are forced to sell through wholesalers. As a result, it is difficult for new breweries to be established in most states. Adequate retail support is a necessary part of the equation. Retailers are the “lifeblood” of the brewing industry, the panelists agreed, and if they are to support the craft brewing movement, they must have a firm understanding of where the products originate. Lastly, the panelists agreed that there must be a viable business plan to consider that includes adequate staffing and capitalization.