A bill that would have allowed Montana breweries to hold a liquor license in addition to their brewing license and another that would have raised the production capacity without this license stacking option both narrowly failed yesterday in the House Business and Labor Committee.

House Bill 326 would have afforded breweries the right to own licenses for operating a brewery and a bar, permitting them to have all the privileges of a regular bar. It would have also lifted the cap for production with a tasting room (from 10,000 barrels to 60,000 barrels annually).

HB 336 would have increased the “small brewery” cap for on-site sales from 10,000 barrels to 60,000 barrels without limiting the maximum yearly amount which could be sold on-site for consumption.

Both bills failed by a vote of 9-10 in the committee, disappointing supporters who argued these bills would have benefited brewers who want to expand production while still operating a tap room, and bar owners who want to brew beer.

Several members of the committee expressed concern that neither bill had enough support from all the industry players, as several brewers had been outspoken against the license stacking bill alongside the Distributors Association. Some lawmakers proposed studying the issue for a better solution.

Both bills are now tabled, but there is still the option of a motion to reconsider. We'll keep you posted.

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