Lawmakers look to create Beer Commission

Would promote Wisconsin breweries and beer business in the state

Beer and Wisconsin are synonymous around the nation. Now state breweries are the focal point of a new piece of legislation that aims to make Wisconsin the best of the best in the country.

It’s pretty simple.

Beer is big business in the badger state.  Wisconsin generates 8 point 6 billion in beer production revenues and its created more than 60-thousand jobs.
The New York Times says Wisconsin is one of two state in the nation that has more bars than grocery stores.  Local brewers say it makes sense to have a commission to promote their business.

“I have been in this for three generations I am a Wisconsin guy born and raised here in Madison Wisconsin,” said Carl Nolen, the president and CEO of Wisconsin Brewing Company in Verona, that opened its doors last fall.

“Wisconsin is known for supporting local industry much like the milk marketing board and the dairy industry,” said Nolen.

Nolen says only 7 percent of beer consumed in the state comes from a Wisconsin Craft Brewery.

“The purpose of a beer commission is really for the purpose of education and what it means when you support a local brewery you are supporting a local farmer, you are supporting raw materials produced in our state it’s all about job creation,” said Nolen.

“What I’d like to see is the state of Wisconsin become the Napa Valley of the beer industry,” said Gary Tauchen, the representative who is proposing the bill that would establish a beer commission that focuses on promoting Wisconsin beer and breweries.

He says Wisconsin ranks in the top 5 in the country for beer consumption so it just makes sense.

“I thought there should be something we can do to help take beer to the next level. So I came up with the idea of the beer commission, which could work out of the department of ag trade and consumer protection and utilize the state fair as a funding source. It gives the players in the industry an opportunity to work together,” said Tauchen.

Back at the Brewery Nolen says the commission is a great idea and since great tasting beer is in high demand these days promoting Wisconsin’s local offerings is the way to go.

“It’s our heritage and culture. We should be proud and find the opportunity to promote safe use of our products in moderate consumption. I think that is what this beer commission is going to do it’s an entity that is going to be focusing on the good that comes from beer,” said Nolen.

Tauchen says he is confident the bill would eventually pass but he does not think it will pass before the end of the session but he is starting the conversation now so the legislation can be taken up right away in the next session.

Wisconsin has 87 local breweries.