Thanks to GOP Tax Cuts, Craft Beverage Producers are Hiring and Expanding


Posted by John Kartch on Friday, December 6th, 2019, 5:00 AM PERMALINK

Thanks to GOP tax cuts, craft beverage producers are hiring new employees, purchasing new equipment, and expanding production
 

Thanks to the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act enacted by congressional Republicans and President Trump, local breweries, distilleries, and wineries across America are hiring more employees, purchasing new equipment, and expanding production. This means local craft beverage entrepreneurs are able to grow their business and provide a greater variety of beverages and fun community gathering places.

The GOP tax cuts enacted the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which provided federal tax relief for local craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries. And the tax cuts included full business expensing, which allows companies to deduct the full cost of new equipment from their taxes the same year they purchase it.

Below are several examples of good news from breweries, wineries, and distilleries. (If you know of any additions to this list, please send to jkartch@atr.org)

Biscayne Bay Craft Brewery (Miami, Florida) – Hiring two new employees and purchasing new equipment:

Consider the story of Jose Mallea, owner of Biscayne Bay Craft Brewery, who participated in President Trump's event. The tax cuts have allowed him to purchase $100,000 more in equipment and hire two new employees. – April 29, 2018 Tallahassee Democrat article excerpt

Cedar Springs Brewing Company (Cedar Springs, Michigan) -- Used savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to hire new employees and purchase new equipment:

Across the nation, craft beer makers are urging Congress to pass the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.

The current legislation gives small brewers a 50% reduction of their federal excise tax, but it expires at the end of 2019.

"It was relief for a lot of us," Cedar Springs Brewing Company's Dave Ringler said. "I can speak personally, that gave us a little cash flow ease. It was something we used to hire employees, buy new equipment. It definitely helped out."

The new act would make that tax cut permanent.

"We’re all little guys," Ringler added. "Almost all of us are entrepreneurs that are sole proprietors or small business people, so it really does help Main Street."

"Small breweries really are the lifeblood of small communities," Ringler added. "It's been a huge part of revitalization in communities not only here in Michigan but nationally." -- Oct. 10, 2019 Fox 17 Article

Clayton Distillery (Clayton, New York) - facility upgrades:

Mr. Aubertine, who co-owns the Clayton Distillery, pays about $40,500 in excise taxes annually for the 3,000 gallons of spirits he produces at $13.50 per proof gallon. The tax reform, however, will reduce his expense to about $8,100 when it takes effect in 2018, which encouraged him to install upgrades to his facility at 40164 Route 12.

“We’re basically investing back into the business,” he said. “The tax plan — it also lets us write off some of the supplies a little bit differently.” - December 28, 2018, Watertown Daily Times article excerpt

Dripping Springs Distilling (Dripping Springs, Texas) -- The owner says he was able to use savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to hire new employees, invest in new equipment, and break ground on a new visitors center:

These tax savings have enabled Texas craft distillers to expand our businesses by hiring more employees, investing in new equipment and purchasing more from Texas agricultural suppliers. At Dripping Springs Distilling, which I co-founded, in addition to creating new jobs, we were able to break ground on a new visitors center, where we hosted 15,000 visitors last year.

 Gary Kelleher is co-founder of Dripping Springs Distilling. -- Nov. 29, 2019 My San Antonio

Dry Fly Distilling (Spokane, Washington) - Hiring new employees, plant expansion, and facility investments:

The reform that went into effect January 1, 2018 is helping Dry Fly Distilling save some money that the company is using to pump right back into a planned expansion, special projects, and other additions.

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act reduced the federal excise tax on distilled spirits producers. Dry Fly Distilling owner Don Poffenroth said the change has saved Dry Fly about $1.50 on every bottle, which cuts down production costs.

"Now that $1.50 really is allowing us to add additional personnel, to put more money back into our plant and then we are embarking on a fairly aggressive expansion plan as well. So, we are going to build a new facility. So, we are 100% reinvesting kind of everything we get out of that," Poffenroth said.

That saved money also can go toward special projects, like the Dry Fly Single Malt Whiskey, which has been aged for the last ten years. - February 16, 2018, KXLY article excerpt

Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, Maryland) - purchasing new equipment:
 

It's a similar story for Maryland's Flying Dog Brewery. CEO Jim Caruso (who is a donor to the Reason Foundation, which publishes this website) says the tax cuts might not look like much at the consumer level, but they free up a lot of money for businesses to reinvest in their operations.
 

"When you look at this reduction in taxes. That translates to a penny per bottle. It's a small cost per bottle times the number of cases, that adds up pretty quickly," says Caruso, saying his company saved some $300,000 thanks to the tax cuts, which he says has gone toward buying new capital equipment. - November 21, 2018 article excerpt from Reason Hit & Run Blog excerpt

 

Ghostface Brewing (Mooresville, North Carolina) – Hiring new employees, purchasing more equipment, and increasing distribution:

Mike Cuddy, owner of Ghostface Brewing in Mooresville, N.C., said his company also used the tax break to buy more equipment, hire more people and focus on distribution to local grocery stores and restaurants. – April 26, 2018, MarketWatch article excerpt

Gray Skies Distillery (Grand Rapids, Michigan) -- Expanding production:

Gray Skies has been in business for around two and a half years and has recently been able to expand production because of one specific aspect of the GOP tax law. It's called the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which was an amendment to the big picture bill Trump signed into law in December.

There's a lot to the law, but here's why it matters to Gray Skies and other distilleries like it: excise taxes are much, much lower for them now. 80% lower to be exact.

"The instant a drop of alcohol is produced, tax is owed on that," said Steve Vander Pol, who co-founded Gray Skies and serves as the head distiller.

The law reduces excise taxes on producers from $13.50 per proof gallon for the first 100,000 gallons produced to $2.70 per proof gallon.

"We're talking thousands of dollars every quarter that we're saving," Vander Pol said, "and obviously for someone on this sized scale to write a check that's reduced by 80% is pivotal. It's been huge for us." - June 4, 2018, WZZM article excerpt

Jordan Winery (Healdsburg, California) -- $1,000 bonuses for each of its 85 employees:

In response to the tax cut bill that passed this week, John Jordan, owner of Jordan Winery in Sonoma County, California, announces that he will give all eligible winery employees a $1,000 bonus as a result of the passage of the 2017 tax reform bill. – Dec. 22, 2017 Jordan Winery press release

Keg Creek Brewing (Glenwood, Iowa) - Expanding operations, purchasing new equipment:

“A small brewery in Glenwood, Iowa, in Mills County called Keg Creek is expanding their operations and investing in new equipment as they grow.” - June 11, 2018, Rep. David Young statement on U.S. House Floor

Lazy Magnolia Brewery (Kiln, Mississippi) - provide employee benefits, give employee promotions, and complete facility upgrades:

Known for its Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale, Lazy Magnolia opened in 2005 and is the oldest packaging brewery in Mississippi. With the money saved from the tax cut, Henderson said the brewery has been able to improve benefits for employees, convert two part-time jobs to full time and improve the brewery's taproom. - June 2, 2018 CNN article excerpt

 

Lewis & Clark Brewing Co (Helena, Montana) - hiring new employees:

At Lewis and Clark Brewing Co., Pigman expects to save $25,000 this year because of the provision in the tax reform that he said brewers like him have been working to get for three years.
 

The money is going to hiring — an employee was brought on last week and Pigman is looking for two more full-time positions each in production and sales. - May 6, 2018 Helena Independent Record article excerpt

 

Mother Earth Brewing Company (Nampa, Idaho) -- The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allowed the brewery to almost double their production, buy new equipment, and hire new employees:

Even the largest Idaho craft brewery has a fraction of that productivity. Mother Earth's Idaho brewery (the company has a second location in California) produced 10,000 barrels in 2018, the first year of the tax cut. This year, the brewery expects to produce 18,000 barrels, according to owner Daniel Love.

 ….

Mother Earth hired two new employees and bought two Unitanks, stainless steel fermenters, with the tax savings. -- Oct. 19, 2019 Idaho Press Article

Ole Smoky Distillery (Gatlinburg, Tennessee) - bonuses for non-senior management employees, purchasing new equipment, opening a new distillery, hiring new employees:

“We are very supportive of the new tax programs, as they are providing an opportunity for us to further invest in our team and business activities,” said Robert Hall, CEO of Ole Smoky Distillery. “We greatly value all our very talented employees, and are always striving to do what is best for them and the surrounding community. We will be using some of our tax savings to reward many of these hardworking individuals, as well as increasing our investment in new business endeavors. We couldn’t think of a better day to make this announcement.”

The moonshine distillery will be using some of the tax cut savings to provide bonuses for all employees below senior management, proportional to their tenure with the company. Additionally, because of its rapid business growth, the company has created many more jobs, particularly in East Tennessee, and plans to continue that growth by investing further in its Sevier County distilleries and expanding its footprint to Nashville, where it plans to open a 4th distillery and retail/entertainment location in the fall. New equipment has already been installed at the company’s largest distillery, the Holler, in order to expand production capacity. More equipment is on order for its Pittman Center bottling facility to continue the capacity expansion of that facility. - April 17, 2018, Ole Smoky Distillery press release excerpt

Port City Brewery (Alexandria, Virginia) -- Because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the company was able to pay employees more, offer better benefits, and buy more equipment:

At Port City, which opened in 2011 and is the oldest packaging brewery in the Washington, D.C.-area, the lower rate amounted to annual savings of roughly $50,000, Butcher said. With that money, Port City was able to pay its employees more, provide them with better benefits, including the employer match for retirement, and add more tanks and automation, he said. 

"All those things have become much easier with this lower tax rate," Butcher said. -- Sept. 26, 2019 Washington Examiner

Rebecca Creek Distillery (San Antonio, Texas) -- The company was able to use savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to hire more people and expand: 

Rebecca Creek Distillery LLC’s Steve Ison said that if Congress fails to extend that tax relief, it will severely strain the craft beverage industry and hamper his company’s ability to continue expanding. 

“It saved us a million bucks,” Ison said. “With that money, we were able to expand and hire more people.”

Backers of the act note that it reduces taxes on distilled spirits, for example, by more than $10 for the first 100,000 gallons produced or imported annually. There is less of a reduction for additional gallons produced. -- Dec. 3, 2019 San Antonio Business Journal

 

Right Proper Brewing Company (Washington, D.C.) -- The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allowed the company to keep beer prices low:

At Right Proper Brewing Company in Washington, D.C., the tax cut saved the company more than $13,000. The brewery produces roughly 600 barrels annually at its restaurant and another 3,200 barrels at its production house in Northeast D.C., which opened in December 2015, co-owner Leah Cheston said.

 With the rate of $3.50 per barrel, the reduced federal excise taxes have allowed Cheston to keep prices at Right Proper's brewpub low, especially when compared with other restaurants in the area.

 "It's prevented us from having to raise prices because everything increases constantly," she said. "To get that break is great. As a small business, every little bit counts." -- Sept. 26, 2019 Washington Examiner

Shortway Brewing Co. (Newport, Connecticut) -- Increasing wages and hiring new employees:

Mr. Shortway said the new tax plan, along with the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, also passed last year, have already helped the brewery save money. The craft beverage act greatly reduced excise taxes on small-scale brewers and the tax plan has additional provisions designed to help small businesses. - May 11, 2018, Carteret County News-Times article excerpt

Southern Grace Distilleries (Mount Pleasant, North Carolina) – Hiring new employees, expanding visitor center, and investing in business expansion:

"The reduction in the federal excise tax has allowed us to hire additional staff, increase our whiskey production, expand our visitor center and invest in marketing which is critical to the growth of our Conviction Small Batch Bourbon brand," said Southern Grace Distilleries CEO Leanne Powell. "At the end of last year our bourbon was available in NC, SC and Washington, DC. Today you can also find Conviction Small Batch Bourbon in Louisiana, Illinois, Oklahoma and Connecticut. We couldn't be happier." – April 26, 2018 Southern Grace Distilleries press release excerpt

St. Augustine Distillery (St. Augustine, Florida) - Hiring new employees, purchasing new equipment and inventory:

“As a young business facing more than their share of regulatory challenges, the St. Augustine Distillery was relieved, to say the least, when the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act was signed into law. The distillery announced shortly after the bill’s passage that they would be using their savings to make further investments in their employees and increase their equipment and inventory, creating new local jobs and hiring additional staff to manufacture, market, and sell their products.” - May 17, 2018, Rep. John Rutherford statement on U.S. House Floor

Stormcloud Brewing Company (Frankfort, Michigan) -- Savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allowed the company to buy new equipment and hire more employees:

“When the initial tax credit passed, it was an immediate savings for us and we were at a time when our business was continuing to grow, and so we took that opportunity to look at how we could invest in additional equipment, which brought on new employees as well,” said Stormcloud Co-Owner Rick Schmitt.

“We were able to add tank space, which allowed us to increase our distribution footprint, so today we’re in 35 counties in Michigan and likely we wouldn’t be there today if it weren’t for this tax credit,” said Schmitt.-- Oct. 7, 2019 9 & 10 News 

Sugarlands Distilling Company (Gatlinburg, Tennessee) – The Craft Beverage Modernization Act – a key part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – helped Sugarlands Distilling Company plan a new 42,000 square foot distillery and barrel house. Sugarland is also investing $2 million in new equipment:

“We’re a small distillery, and this is a huge risk, one that we couldn’t have taken without the Craft Beverage Modernization Act. That’s given us the capital and the confidence that we needed to make a big bet on the future of our company. This month, we are breaking ground on a 42,000 square foot distillery and barrel house. We’re purchasing over $2 million worth of equipment, including one of the biggest pot stills Vendome has ever made. Each year, we’ll be buying almost $3 million pounds of corn and rye, and thousands of handcrafted American Oak barrels to produce our Tennessee whiskey.” -- Ned Vickers, President and CEO of Sugarlands Distilling Company

Sugarlands has a wonderful new video telling the story of the expansion. Here is an excerpt from the video:

“Our business is our passion. But just like every other business, we have our share of challenges. The Craft Beverage Modernization Act has allowed us to plan expansion, buy new equipment, create more jobs, and introduce ourselves to people in new neighborhoods. It means we can continue making an impact felt by all of our families, partners, and friends, for years to come.”

Sugarlands Distilling Company is a maker of many fine moonshinesavailable online or in person in Gatlinburg.

Telaya Winery (Boise, Idaho) -- The winery hired more employees and improved its marketing because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

At Boise’s Telaya Winery, grapes are sorted by hand onto a conveyor belt heading to the destemmer. Owner Earl Sullivan said the big bunches of fruit need to be pulled apart or they can explode in the machine.

“It’s a product of the freeze we just had a couple days ago,” he said, “We’re just having to work a little bit harder to make sure the fruit is as clean as we want it.”

 Sullivan is also the chair of the Idaho Wine Commission Board. Today’s grapes are processed and barreled for aging, but won’t be bottled and taxed as wine for two years. That delay can make tax law changes difficult to prepare for. 

 “We spend several hundred thousand dollars per year on production for two years down the road, so the most likely impact in the short term would be a reduction in production,” Sullivan said. He also noted the winery has beefed up its hiring and marketing in the last two years while the tax rates have been lower. -- Oct. 22, 2019 Boise State Public Radio

The Mitten Brewing Company (Grand Rapids, Michigan) -- Because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Michigan Brewery was able to produce new beer, preform new research, hire new employees, give employees pay raises and bonuses:

"It literally put money back into our pockets that we were spending before. We had been producing a bunch of new beers that we have been able to research and develop, and we’ve retained key employees, by giving them bonuses, raises, bringing in new employees," said Max Trierweiler, co-owner of The Mitten Brewing Company.” -- Oct. 7, 2019 WZZM13 Article

Wood Boat Brewery (Clayton, New York) - Hiring new employees, expanding production:

Similarly, small producers of beer and liquor seem to be well positioned to take advantage of tax savings given the large cut to the federal excise charge across the industry.  Mix in a lower overall tax rate and the savings start to add up. Some are using the proceeds to hire and reinvest. For example, in Watertown, NY, the Wood Boat Brewery started posting ads for full-time help after the law passed.

Owner Michael J. Hazelwood told the Watertown Daily Times in December that he’d likely expand production and hire staff with savings realized from the reduced excise tax. Now, like the Klavers of SALUS, it appears he has. - April 18, 2018, Capital One blog post excerpt

If you know of any additions to this list, please send to jkartch@atr.org

For the full national list of pay raises, bonuses, 401(k) match increases, expansions, and utility rate reductions due to the Republican tax cuts, visit www.atr.org/list

 

Photo Credit: Paul Joseph

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