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Gov. Ducey signs bill increasing cap for craft breweries

Gov. Doug Ducey signs a bill increasing the production caps for craft breweries at Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe, Arizona's largest brewery. (Photo by Jeremy Duda, Arizona Capitol Times)

Gov. Doug Ducey signs a bill increasing the production caps for craft breweries at Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe, Arizona’s largest brewery. (Photo by Jeremy Duda, Arizona Capitol Times)

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill Tuesday increasing the production cap for state microbreweries while at Four Peaks Brewing Company’s original restaurant in Tempe.

Four Peaks is the state’s largest microbrewery and the only one nearing the old limit. The microbrewery has gotten the cap changed twice previously to allow it to keep its license and still own and run its restaurants.

Bill sponsor Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, state lawmakers, Four Peaks’ owners and several industry officials joined Ducey for the signing where he called the bill a common-sense reform to an outdated law.

“I don’t think Arizona should ever be in the business of punishing enterprise. We should always continue to find opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive,” Ducey said.

Ward’s bill strikes a compromise between producers and distributors: Microbreweries can keep up to seven retail locations and brew up to 6.2 million gallons of beer per year. After that, they’ll have to give up their restaurants and apply for a producer license.

The proposal was one of the more contentious this session, pitting powerful business interests against each other, but the compromise passed through the Senate and House with only a single dissenting vote in each.

Several states including Arizona, North Dakota and Wyoming have passed legislation allowing craft breweries to brew more beer while Montana lawmakers have defeated a similar measure.

Growing popularity has craft breweries bumping up the country’s longstanding three-tier system, which was designed to prevent mega breweries such as Anheuser-Busch from controlling beer production, distribution and retail stores and restaurants.

Distributors and producers agree the compromise allows small breweries to flourish without ceding power away from distributors or retailers, said Jim Scussel, co-owner of Four Peaks.

“It basically raises the limit to an amount that we all agree on. 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