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New bill raises production limit for breweries

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Governor Steve Bullock signed a new law Monday giving Montana breweries the ability to make more beer without penalties.

Starting October 1, House Bill 541 will raise the annual production limit of Montana microbreweries from 10,000 barrels to 60,000.  The bill also continues to allow breweries to sell beer in taprooms.  Places like Draught Works and Bayern breweries said the new bill will allow them to expand production and even sell outside of Montana.  Big Sky Brewery hopes to expand at their site to resemble other taprooms in Missoula.

"We've never been able to sell beer for people that drink in our tap room and now we can," said Big Sky Brewing President and Co-founder Neal Leathers. "We've done for last 20 years little samples...that we give away for people.  Now we'll be able to do full glasses and be able to sell to people.  So now you can hang out here, drink beers with your buddies and hey we don't give it all away."

Over the past 10 years, Big Sky Brewing has been forced to give away $4 million worth of free beer because they surpassed the production limit, mostly due to their sales in 24 other states.

In 2016 the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana reported microbreweries contributed $103.2 million to Montana's economy and employed more than 1000 people.  According to the Montana Brewers Association, there are around 60 breweries in Montana.

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