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Pikes Pub: Trio of Colorado bills aim to boost brewing

February 10, 2016 Updated: February 10, 2016 at 7:55 am
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Food gift guide. Beer flight. Carol Lawrence/The Gazette

The Colorado General Assembly is mulling a trio of beer-related bills this session, including a measure aimed at helping home brewers.

House Bill 1084, from Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, would change language on liquor laws to clear up confusion for home brewers.

Currently, home brewers can make beer without a license only if they're "head of a family" and the beer is for "family" use. Lebsock's measure would let any adult make unlicensed beer for "personal use."

Lebsock's measure declares the change is needed immediately for the "preservation of the public peace, health, and safety." The measure has passed committee and is headed to the House floor.

Lawmakers also are looking to boost beer research on college campuses - laboratory stuff, not the "Friday night in Boulder" variety.

House Bill 1042, sponsored by Rep. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, would exempt "state institutions of higher education that engage in manufacturing and tasting of fermented malt beverages" from licensing laws.

Colorado State University in Arndt's district offers one of the state's coolest degree programs - Fermentation Science and Technology, which prepares students for careers in the brewing business.

Getting the exemption would clear hurdles for the program while creating a job opportunity for a lucky Colorado tippler. The measure defines the position of "expert taster."

The bill was tweaked in the Education Committee and is headed to the House floor.

The third measure that will draw attention from Colorado brewers is from Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs.

Senate Bill 53 would allow small beer, wine and liquor makers to distribute up to 9,000 liters of their product without a wholesaler license.

If passed, the measure would be a boon to small brewers looking to get a leg up in the marketplace without seeking wholesaler help.

The measure has garnered bipartisan acclaim with Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, pushing it in the House.

It's getting some scrutiny, though, because a change would cost Colorado licensing fees. The measure would cut an estimated $83,000 from state coffers next year.

Now, the measure is bottled up in a Senate committee.

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