Market shoppers react to proposal for craft beer sales

Market shoppers react to proposal for craft beer sales

LEESPORT, Pa. - Stop by any stand like the ones at the Leesport Farmers Market and you will see a wide array of items being sold.

The one item shoppers won't find, however, is craft beer, but that could change.

A bill sponsored by Pa. Rep. Dante Santoni, D-Berks Co., would allow craft breweries to sell their beer at farmers' markets and food expositions.

The bill, Santoni said, would allow small businesses in the state to expand. Market-goers, like Thomas Shegar of Reading, think it is a great idea.

"Right now, if you want something to drink, you have to go to the state store, which is ridiculous, or the beer store," said Shegar.

"I'd guess it would be alright if you had the right license to do so," said Steve Lochner of Pottstown.

But others disagreed.

"No, no, no. This has been a good family run organization for a long time here in Leesport and I think it should stay that way," said Susan Cleveland of Muhlenberg Township.

"Let's keep the beer out of here," said Dick Cleveland of Muhlenberg Township.

"There's too many young kids at the farmers markets," said Deborah Ahner of Oley Township.

The bill won unanimous support from the House Liquor Control Committee on Tuesday.

Special permits would be available only to those craft breweries that annually produce less than 25,000 barrels of beer, similar to permits offered to wineries.

Craft breweries would be able to offer tastings and sales of their products as long as they had the proper permits.

Santoni said craft breweries have gained in popularity since 2007. Although that is the case, executives at Stoudts Brewing Company in Lancaster County said, if the bill were to pass, they are not sure if they would set up stands. It would be something, they said, they would have to look into.

This bill now makes it way to the House floor.

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