The Beer Act and Chuck Shumer

(While this is a more local focused story, this act should help small breweries across the country.-PGA)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer peers into a fermentation tank with Peter Martin, director of brewery operations at Brown’s Brewing Co.,in Troy, Tuesday, where Sen. Schumer announced his support for a bill which would provide small breweries with a break on annual excise taxes. (Mike McMahon / The Record)

Written by Katie Nowak for

TROY, NY— As he toured Brown’s Brewing Company Tuesday, nibbling on toasted barley and chatting with employees, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, paused to reflect on the brewery’s place in the financial landscape.

“It’s the new economy, right here,” Schumer said.

That new economy will get a boost if Schumer has his way, as New York’s senior senator announced his support for bipartisan legislation called the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act, or BEER Act, which would give small local breweries, like Brown’s, a tax cut, ultimately helping them reinvest in their operations and expand their workforce.

Breweries across the country currently pay a $7 excise tax on the first 60,000 barrels they brew annually, and Brown’s shoulders a $28,000 bill thanks to that tax. But the BEER Act would cut that tax in half for breweries which produce fewer than six million barrels per year, to $3.50 per barrel, and would take $2 off the tax on the remaining barrels up to two million.

For Brown’s President Garry Brown, the BEER Act would be a huge help, since the company is planning on expanding its production operations at a new site in Hoosick Falls, set to open later this year. The facility would eventually bump Brown’s annual output from 3,500 barrels to 15,000 barrels, Brown said, meaning a potential tax bill in excess of $100,000.

With the BEER Act, Brown said he was “thrilled” with the possibility of chopping that number in half, and what that would mean for his company’s growth.

“This bill … will help us be a more profitable brewery down the road,” he said. “If we can get our excise tax reduced, we can reinvest that money into our business, more equipment, more jobs, more beer gets into the community, and it’s all good.”

Schumer said that that is his ultimate plan for the bill, helping to “make today’s growing brewing tradition even stronger” by allowing those breweries to reinvest not only in themselves, but in their communities.

Citing his recent visit to the GlobalFoundries chip fab facility under-construction in Malta, Schumer said that though the plant and Brown’s are different in scope and purpose, they’re both infusing the region with energy, and, more importantly, employment opportunities. Brown’s, which already employs around 90 people, will add another 25 jobs at its new Hoosick Falls facility.

The continued opportunities that the BEER Act will provide Brown’s are endless, Schumer said.

“It means that breweries like Brown’s will remain a crown jewel of Troy and communities like it, and it will also encourage new ones to come about,” he added.

The bill will affect around 60 breweries similar to Brown’s across New York State, and 650 nation-wide. A Harvard study on the legislation projected that the BEER Act would increase economic activity in the small brewery sector by more than $115 million in its first year in action, and more than $733 million during the first five years.

Schumer said this “shot in the arm” legislation would “make beer more enjoyable, jobs more plentiful here in the Capital Region.”

Joining in Schumer’s enthusiasm was Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino, who said the prospect of the bill allowing Brown’s to expand its workforce would give the local economy a much-needed boost, as jobs are a key factor in stabilizing finances.

Mayor Harry Tutunjian noted the transformation that Troy has undergone since Brown’s opened its doors in 1993, citing the brewery as a major player in revitalizing the Collar City’s downtown and riverfront districts. The opportunity for the company that has given the city so much to receive something in return is an exciting one, Tutunjian said.

“It’s a wonderful thing, we’re proud to have them here and proud to see the great work being done … to make their success even greater,” he added.

Katie Nowak can be reached at 270-1287, by e-mail at or on Twitter @knowak_record.

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