Spokane's own No-Li brewhouse is making history by creating a federally-approved style of brewing beer Spokane-style. While it could help grow our local economy, lawmakers in Olympia may put a damper on things.
The brewers at No-Li fought to get that new style of beer and its an exciting time for Spokane and our local craft beer business community, but any growth that excitement might foster could be crushed by a tax hike being considered by state lawmakers.
"Well we're pretty much under a continuous expansion right now," Mark Irvin said. "Now we've got a Spokane style beer, and it's really cool because there isn't another one in the United States."
Partners John Bryant and Mark Irvin are excited for what this could mean for Spokane.
"It has to be brewed in Spokane, it needs to be packaged in Spokane by Spokane residents and for our local economy," Bryant said.
But they are cautiously optimistic as lawmakers in Olympia are considering Governor Jay Inslee's proposed budget now, which includes a dramatic increase in the beer excise tax.
If passed, Washington brewers paying just under $5 a barrel now would pay $20 in tax for every barrel they sell.
"Essentially what you will do is put a lead weight right on top of this growing economy," Bryant said.
That tax would likely force Washington beer makers to relocate; in Oregon, for example, brewers pay about half of our current tax.
"If you look at what Oregon is doing in the craft brewing industry and the number of jobs and taxes they're creating by living wage jobs it is incredible and what we can do here in Spokane has just scratched the surface," Bryant said.
However if the tax passes and brewers chose to stay in Washington the added costs will be passed on to consumers. That's why Bryant and other brewers are urging beer lovers to send a message to Olympia.
"Help support us so we can create jobs in this great town so when your kids get out of high school or college they don't immediately move to Seattle or Colorado, lets get them to stay here but we got to create a local economy," he said.