Distribution a challenge for Nebraska craft breweries

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Updated: Wed, 09 Apr 2014 06:17:06 CST

Local Breweries are struggling to put their product on the shelves. Last night we told you about a new brewery in Ord, ScratchTown. The owners want to their beer in area stores. But, it could come at a hefty price for one of the smallest breweries in the state.

The grains are grinding and the beer is flowing at ScratchTown Brewery.

"It's chilled down to about 65 degrees and we pitch the yeast and it ferments for about 10 days and then we do some cool brewing."

But, the work is far from over.

"We want to grow and maintain absolute control in the quality of the product we serve."

While the beer is smooth, the road to bottle ScratchTown beer is full of foam.
"It's frustrating when I go to Hyvee down in Grand Island for example to buy some of my favorite craft beers the liquor manager asks when are we going to be able to distribute because we got wineries that can walk in and sell direct to retail but breweries in Nebraska don't have that option."

There are 38 self-distribution states in the country. Nebraska is not one of them.

ScratchTown can serve beer to customers from their taproom.

"We are brewing 2-3 times a week."

But, in order to sell their beer to gas stations and grocery stores, the Ord brewery pays a fee to a distribution company. A law Pollard and his partners would like changed.

"It allows us as a very small boot strap start-up to grow our business more organically and it allow us to save on some of cost what distribution would cost us to reinvest into the business so we can grow."

ScratchTown is asking state lawmakers to reform legislation...
"I could see the small producer wants to get into other places and it may be hard for them to do that."
But with the session winding down... the glass is half empty this year.
"I have not heard any distributor that would not distribute small breweries beer I think the bottom line there is they get money for the distribution."

"We are three small families that are really interested how entrepreneurship can change rural America and we ask people to believe in us to change rural America."
Another issue ScratchTown mentioned is taxing. In Nebraska, craft breweries are taxed twice. Once for making the beer and another tax for the sale of beer.

State Senator Russ Karpisek says this tax system is necessary to make sure the quality of beer meets standards and that taxes are being paid to the retailer and manufacturer.