Brewing up a New Law: Local Restaurant Speaks Out

Craft beer-lovers will be happy about a bill introduced this session in the Vermont Legislature.
WILLISTON, Vt. - Craft beer-lovers will be happy about a bill introduced this session in the Vermont Legislature.

It would allow restaurants to serve more samples of beer and hard cider.

Flights of four beer samples are a staple at brew-pubs. Until recently, the Vermont Tap House served flights as well.

But bar manager Jay Lafountain says they received a Department of Liquor Control violation for serving four 4 oz beers at a time.

That's because the Tap House doesn't brew it's own beer--so they're only legally allowed to serve two glasses at a time, though the glass can hold up to 32 oz.

"We got in a little bit of trouble for it," said Lafountain. "We didn't like the fact that we could serve a half-gallon of beer in two separate vessels, but not a pint of beer in four different vessels," he said.

In other words, the restaurant could serve double or even quadruple the amount of beer as the four-glass flights, as long as it was in just two glasses.

Lafountain wants to have the same chance to showcase samples as any brew-pub can.

"It kind of got to me, so I contacted everybody I could," he said.

That included State Sen. Tim Ashe (D-Chittenden).

"When the Vermont Tap House called me, it was a no-brainer to try and harmonize the treatment of both brew-pubs and restaurants," said Sen. Ashe.

Sen. Ashe is one of the sponsors of the bill that would even the playing field.

"Vermont restaurants now, they carry an increasingly interesting and broad array of beer products, but aren't also able to provide samples in the same way that brew-pubs have been," said Sen. Ashe.

Indeed, the Vermont Tap House has 28 malt beverages on draught, including 21 from Vermont.

"We have so many local products that we'd like to showcase," said Lafountain.

He says changing the law will make getting that violation all worth it.

"A small fine, and a little bit of a lecture," he explained. "But we're willing to take that hit to be able to get the ball rolling...we want to change it for everybody, so everybody can do it. It's not just us."

The bill is currently in the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs committee. According to the committee's schedule, it could be up for a vote as early as Tuesday.

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