If you’re a 10 Barrel Brewing Co. fan, feel free to raise a toast in the popular Downtown Boise destination — it’s not going anywhere.
The brewpub at 8th and Bannock streets — purchased last year by Anheuser-Busch InBev — will be allowed to continue operating and enjoying exemptions awarded to small brewers, despite a challenge from the Idaho Beer and Wine Distributors Association.
On Wednesday, Idaho State Police’s Alcohol Beverage Control ruled that Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewer, is not licensed as a brewer in Idaho, so the state does not have the ability to regulate it.
Jeremy Pisca, the Idaho Beer and Wine Distributors Association’s executive director, lawyer and lobbyist, said he will appeal ABC’s interpretation of state statute in district court.
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“This is not an anti-10 Barrel issue,” Pisca said. “It’s not an anti-Anheuser-Busch issue. To us, it’s very much about the regulatory system that has existed in Idaho for 80 years.”
Idaho requires alcohol producers, distributors and retail sellers to operate independently of one another. This three-tiered system is designed to prevent large producers from controlling the distribution chain and squeezing out competitors.
State law was written with exemptions to aid small brewers, defined as those producing fewer than 30,000 barrels of beer each year. Small brewers are allowed to operate brewpubs and self-distribute their beer. Large brewers are not allowed to operate brewpubs and must use independent distributors.
The Distributors Association argued that 10 Barrel’s sale meant a large brewer occupied two of the three tiers if 10 Barrel continued operating its Boise brewpub.
The Distributors Association asked ABC for a declaratory ruling, or written interpretation, of how it deems which breweries fall under the 30,000-barrel threshold. Currently, ABC only counts beer produced within Idaho.
“Anheuser-Busch is not licensed as a brewer, retailer or wholesaler in the state of Idaho,” ABC wrote. “... Therefore, its production of beer outside of the state of Idaho is beyond ABC’s regulatory authority or control. ... Anheuser-Busch is licensed in Idaho with a certificate of approval. There is nothing in relevant Idaho law that prohibits the holder of a certificate of approval from having a financial interest in a licensed small brewer’s business.”
Pisca said ABC’s decision ignores the spirit of the law.
“We will appeal it, because we still think it’s wrong,” Pisca said. “And we think it’s detrimental to all small brewers in the state of Idaho, frankly.”
Statesman reporter Zach Kyle contributed to this article.