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New legislation would ease beer, liquor regulations

Newly proposed legislation would ease the rules and restrictions for breweries, wineries and distilleries in Wisconsin.

The bill, dubbed “CHEERS Wisconsin!” was introduced Tuesday.

“It provides more flexibility for owners and people that want to be owners, of breweries, wineries and distilleries,” said Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), a co-sponsor of the bill.

Jimmy Gosset, one of the owners of Raised Grain Brewing Company in Waukesha County, says when they opened two years ago, they realized they needed to know a lot more than just how to brew beer.

“It's been a lot of learning about the rules and regulations of brewing,” Gosset said.

But the proposed legislation would change that. It would double the production capacity from 10,000 to 20,000 barrels and the number of locations from 6 to 12 for brewpub owners.  And wineries would be allowed to stay open until 2 A.M.

“There's all sorts of crazy rules about what you can and cannot do,” Rep. Kooyenga said. “So one example of that is, Wisconsin wineries have to close their doors by 9 pm. Why is that do you ask? Well that's cause the competition doesn't want them to host weddings.”

The legislation also increases the number of class B liquor licenses municipalities can issue by 10 percent.

“The objections are it's going to compete with existing taverns, and that those taverns will loses business,” Rep. Kooyenga said. “And I just disagree with that. This is a tourism issue. Places like Brookfield, for example, we've had a lot of development and we don't' have enough licenses.”

Gosset says the bill would make it easier for small businesses, like his, to thrive.

“I’m excited about it,” Gosset said. “I think that we're dependent on that for growth.”

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