Baton Rouge lawmakers cleared the way this week for more microbreweries, microdistilleries and other craft beer makers to brew and sell their products in the city.

Before this week, all beer makers were lumped into the same category with huge distributors under local laws. Now, local laws have their own definitions for microbrewers and microdistillers so that people making craft beers can brew up to 12,500 barrels a year, and sell their products on-site.

“It’s really to kind of help the craft beer emerging industry,” said Metro Council member Buddy Amoroso before the council approved the changes.

The Metro Council also approved new laws for on-site sampling of spirits, beer and wine that will make it easier for stores give out samples. Previous law only allowed for retail outlets to let customers sample wine unless they had a special event permit.

Several local grocery store owners backed the changes that would give them the freedom to hold more tastings. Among them were Ernie and Dale Matherne, Blaise Calandro and Randal Leblanc.

“Sampling is a crucial way for the Louisiana producers to promote their wine,” said Dan Nash of Landry Vineyards, based out of West Monroe.

One of the main goals of changing the sampling ordinance was to bring it more in line with state laws, Amoroso said. Sampling licenses will now cost $120 a year, or retailers can buy a one-time permit for $60.

The Metro Council unanimously approved the craft beer and the sampling ordinances.


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