A little more help for craft beverages

New York has made life a little easier for craft beverage companies.

Three new laws signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo ease burdens on microbreweries, farm distilleries and retail enterprises engaged in the craft-beverage business.

Under the retail-focused law, retail outlets that sell beer, cider and liquor are now authorized to conduct tastings without the manufacturer or wholesaler being present, overturning previous laws requiring the participation of a representative of the craft-beverage-maker.

State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Oyster Bay), who sponsored the Senate bill, said the authorization gives retailers “the tools necessary to market these products and allow consumers the opportunity to sample before they choose.”

“This will help customers make informed decisions and will give retailers another marketing device,” Marcellino said in a written statement.

The other new laws, sponsored by lawmakers from northern counties, allow farm distilleries to sell gifts and souvenirs and exempt microbreweries from what the governor’s office called “redundant tax-filing requirements.”

The tax exemption means microbreweries are no longer required to submit annual sales tax information, a paperwork break already afforded to farm breweries. The governor’s office noted many small businesses are “not properly equipped to handle the data collection needed” for proper sales-tax filings, while most of the beer produced by microbreweries is already accounted for in distributor sales, “making it a redundant task.”

Before Cuomo signed the third law, regarding gift and souvenir sales at farm distilleries, such businesses were not authorized to sell gift items, such as locally produced foods and crafts, or merchandise including non-alcoholic beverages and liquor supplies. The new law beings the distilleries in line with farm breweries and wineries, which had no such restrictions.

Cuomo said the trio of new craft-beverage laws will help “create more jobs and more economic activity.”

“New York’s craft beverage industry is thriving and we’re committed to helping it grow,” the governor said in a statement. “These measures will further cut red tape and will give breweries, cideries and distilleries greater opportunity to expand their businesses.”