July 17, 2014 -- On the eve of the 2014 Vermont Brewers Festival, an event that draws thousands to Burlington's Waterfront to celebrate the state's robust craft beer industry, Gov. Peter Shumlin was joined today by lawmakers, restaurant and bar owners, and distributors to celebrated a new law legalizing sampler flights of beer, wine and spirituous beverages.
"This new law is yet another way that we can support Vermonters making the best beer in the world, as well as fostering our growing wine and spirits industry," Gov. Shumlin said at the outside beer garden at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill in Burlington. "This is a great example of legislation that directly supports our economy and draws attention to the artisans that are so important to our way of life here."
The Governor praised the late Sen. Sally Fox for sponsoring the bill, and thanked Jay LaFountain and Jonathan Wish from the Vermont Tap House for pushing hard for the new law.
"As the demand for Vermont beer grows in tandem with the state's brewing industry's national reputation, expanding sample options at our restaurants, breweries, vineyards, distilleries and brewpubs will benefit the state economy," said Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Megan Smith. "This change better serves both Vermonters who are passionate about local beer and travelers who seek a taste of Vermont, all of which translates to increased business."
The Governor also highlighted the remarkable growth of the artisan beverage industry that supports the local economy through tourism, exports and value-added local products. The 2014 Vermont Brewers Festival alone will debut nine new independently owned brewers, bringing the total to 34, the highest per-capita in the country.
More proof of the strength of this industry, the Governor said, is the enormous popularity of the Vermont Brewers Festival, which sold out within 11 minutes of tickets becoming available. The two-day event features tastings, educational programs, opportunities to meet the brewers, and other activities for responsible adults to experience the Vermont beer world.
The Vermont Brewers Association is reviewing options for additional festivals, and is encouraging towns and cities to contact them if they might be interested in supporting the industry by hosting an event in their towns. Smaller festivals are held throughout the year at Smugglers' Notch, Mount Snow, Killington, Okemo and Sugarbush. In addition , the Vermont Brewers Association passport program is active and has tens of thousands of participants all around the world visiting breweries in Vermont.
Gov. Shumlin also applauded the growing spirits movement in the state. According to the Vermont Department of Liquor Control, the gross sales of Vermont spirits sold through state liquor stores, manufacturing retail premises, special events, and farmers markets has grown from $643,493 in 2010 to $2.7 million in 2013.
Vermont's artisan beverage producers will continue to contribute to the growth of the booming $1.4 billion direct visitor spending industry, with support from beverage manufacturers, business owners and legislative leaders.