Brewers seek another round of increases to Rhode Island taproom beer sale limits

Rhode Island breweries continue to fight for the ability to sell more beer from their taprooms for offsite consumption with two new pieces of legislation making their way through the chambers of the State House.

Update March 8, 2021: The RI Senate will conduct a hearing on its own version of Rep. Caldwell’s bill (S199) on Wednesday, March 10 at 5 p.m. This bill is also seeking to increase to-go beer sales limits to 10 cases per person for breweries producing less than 7,500 barrels per year.

In July 2019, RI beer lovers rejoiced when former Governor Gina Raimondo signed a bill to increase the limits for off-premise sales from 288 oz. to one case of 12 oz. cans or bottles (24 total) or one case of 16 oz. cans or bottles (24 total).

A new bill filed by Rep. Justine Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) seeks to increase those limits even further for brewers manufacturing less than 7,500 barrels per year. The proposed limit for those breweries is “10 cases or equivalent per person, per day.”

The proposal’s received a lot of local support from brewers, including Tilted Barn Brewery, which testified before the House Small Business Committee in favor of it and helped raise awareness through social media posts last month.

Another bill filed by Rep. David Place (R-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester) proposes an across the board increase of off-premise sales limits from the current 24 12 oz. or 16 oz. bottles or cans to 55 12 oz. and 41 16 oz. bottles and cans. Based on volume, this proposal would allow for 656-660 oz. of beer to be sold to a single person per day.

While this more than doubles the max number of growlers a person can take home, it still limits most buyers to less than two cases of beer since most breweries sell 16 oz. cans.

Current off-premise sales limitsRep. Place’s proposal
24 12-oz. cans or bottles55 12-oz. cans or bottles
24 16-oz. cans or bottles41 16-oz. cans or bottles
4 64-oz. growlers10 64-oz. growlers
9 32-oz. growlers/crowlers20 32-oz. growlers/crowlers

Both bills were tabled for further review but Tilted Barn’s Matt Richardson posted he was feeling positive following the committee hearing.

“Virtually all of the groups who were planning to oppose it backed down due to the support shown for the bill. The committee did not vote on it last night but the hearing went great. They even noted the massive amount of comments emails, phone calls, and written testimony they received on the bill. Talks are ongoing right now and we are hoping for a vote in the near future and promise to keep everyone posted.”

Matt Richardson, Tilted Barn Brewery via Instagram

There’s no current timeline for when the legislation may move along, but it’s a sign of forward thinking by lawmakers for the local craft beer industry.

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