Bullock signs bill upping brewing output to 60,000 barrels

Gov. Steve Bullock, center, joins Missoula Reps. Adam Hertz and Ellie Hill at Bayern Brewery in Missoula in signing House Bill 541, which ups the production cap on microbreweries to 60,000 barrels a year. (Courtesy photo)

After years of lobbying, breweries across Montana celebrated Monday as Gov. Steve Bullock signed a bill in Missoula raising the production cap on the state’s microbreweries.

While the signing was largely ceremonial, the new law raises the production cap from 10,000 barrels to 60,000 barrels. Bullock signed the measure after attending the groundbreaking of the KettleHouse Amphitheater in Bonner.

“Even more than taps and great beers, our breweries employ our fellow Montanans, buy products from our farmers, and help grow Main Street Montana,” Bullock said. “This legislation is a good thing for the industry and for our economy, as well as for Montana craft beer lovers like myself.”

Bullock joined Rep. Adam Hertz, R-Missoula, who sponsored the bill, and Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, at Bayern Brewery – the oldest microbrewery operating in Montana.

Passage of HB 541 will help Montana brewers boost economic output, create more jobs and compete in the regional marketplace, Bullock said.

According to the state, more than 68 breweries in 35 communities are currently operating in Montana. Together, they employ more than 700 workers.

At more than $100 million in economic output, Montana’s breweries are projected to produce nearly 200,000 barrels of beer this year, more than double the rate brewed in Montana in 2010.