Proposed legislation in Washington could cut excise tax for small brewers by 50%

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BUFFALO, N.Y. - Craft brewing is one of the fastest growing industries in the state of New York and Buffalo is one of the leaders in this brewing trend.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer visited the Queen City on Tuesday, toting legislation that promises to keep the barrels rolling.

"It's a piece of legislation that will be a shot in the arm for our small breweries, micro breweries and brew pubs all across New York State," said Schumer.

The Small Brew Act would cut the excise tax in half, from $7 to $3.50 for the first 60,000 barrels a brewer produces. For example, Pearl Street Brewery which also owns Pan Am Brewery, produced 28-hundred barrels last year, the Small BREW Act would mean a $9,800 a year savings. For the area's largest craft brewer, Flying Bison, it would equal $21,000 in savings on the 6,000 barrels they produced last year.

Matt Kahn of Big Ditch Brewery says, "It will help us to grow our business and improve our product, but where I see the benefit is down the road really adding jobs."

Flying Bison founder Tim Herzog adds, "you need the right plan in the right place at the right time, with the right people."

Herzog knows that better than most. He has seen Flying Bison take off, going from 420 barrels produced in the first year to projections of 10,000 in the coming years.

His success has paved the ways for others. Community Beer Works, Resurgence Brewery and Big Ditch Brewery, which along with Pearl Street and Pan Am Brewery, have plans to expand in the coming years.

Herzog says one thing that is helping the growth is collaboration between brewers. "Ten years ago, to see all these guys around the table, I'm not sure if we could have imagined it, we always hoped for it, but I'm not sure if we could imagined it," said Herzog.

This group of entrepreneurs see the Buffalo Craft brew scene becoming an even greater tourist draw, comparable to the wine industry in the Finger Lakes. Community Beer Works owner Ethan Cox says that the Canadian market has been slower moving than on this side of the border, which has helped their growth. "We can very easily capitalize on it." Herzog echoed that, " We're seeing it every week and i'm sure you are too, people stopping in taking a tour, buying a growler, we're seeing increased Canadian traffic every week."

Pearl Street's Earl Ketry wrapped it up by saying, "WNY is becoming more and more of a destination and all we have to keep doing is pouring gasoline on the burning fire and look out, here we come."

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