Action needed to preserve smaller breweries amid industry giants

Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch is arguing for an excise tax break for smaller brewers.
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Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch is arguing for an excise tax break for smaller brewers.

Your story on how our federal excise tax system determines rates for the two huge brewers as compared with much smaller brewers describes the proposed legislation but doesn’t paint a complete picture (“Big seller Boston Beer argues for small-brewer tax break,” Page A1, May 13).

Samuel Adams has only 1 percent of the beer market. The American beer industry, however, is now a duopoly with two international conglomerates, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, controlling almost 80 percent of sales. Large American-owned brewers are extinct, partly because when Congress instituted a tax differential in 1976, it treated midsized brewers the same as big brewers, and over time they went out of business.

It is time to recalibrate this 1976 law to reflect today’s beer industry and preserve American breweries. The legislation has nothing to do with being a “craft” beer or not. That’s an industry term, and not relevant to taxes. The legislation would create a middle class so that small brewers that have a good product can grow and create jobs without being assessed like big brewers.


American craft brewing is growing. Some 2,500 brewers fall into this category, including all 50 Massachusetts brewers. That’s a lot of potential job growth that we can encourage. And that is why the Massachusetts Brewers Guild strongly supports this legislation.

Rob Martin


Massachusetts Brewers



The writer is president of Ipswich Ale Brewery.