Three Washington breweries are suing the state of Oregon, arguing a law puts out-of-state brewers at an unfair disadvantage.
Oregon allows in-state brewers to sell their beer to licensed retail businesses. Out-of-state breweries that want to do the same must obtain a federal wholesaler’s permit, then use a licensed Oregon distributor. It’s expensive, especially for small- and mid-sized breweries.
Fortside Brewing Co. co-founder Michael DiFabio (pictured on the left with co-founder Mark Doleski) went through the arduous process four years ago, and founded a separate Oregon company (Fortis) just to distribute beer in the state. The process of getting their Washington beer to Oregon customers costs their brewery thousands of dollars a year. Fortside is one of the breweries involved in the lawsuit.
A Seattle Times article points out there is precedent for the case. A 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling “established the principle that states could not favor their own alcohol beverage industries.”
The breweries involved – which also include Mirage and Garden Path Fermentation – want Oregon to treat out-of-state breweries the same as they do for in-state ones. Oregon brewers submit a statement each month detailing how much beer they sold. The state calculates the tax due and the breweries pay, with no additional permits or distributor fees.
“We’re just trying to level the playing field,” DiFabio says.
Read more (Seattle Times)