The Kodiak Island Brewing Company may lose the ability to host many public events due to a proposed change in Alcoholic Beverage Control Board regulations, according to brewery owner Ben Millstein.
The regulation would limit activities at breweries and distilleries such as festivals, games and competitions, classes, parties, presentations and performances, and other types of organized social gatherings that are advertised to the general public. The ABC Board is part of the state Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office.
Millstein said the brewery holds numerous events that wouldn’t be allowed under the new regulations, including birthday parties, art classes and jewelry sales.
“The whole business is private, but part of my motivation is creating a community business,” Millstein said. “I’m trying to provide something valuable for the community. It’s not just beer. It’s a social space.”
Existing regulations already significantly limit the operation of the Kodiak brewery. As a tasting room, the downtown operation is required to close by 8 p.m. and can only sell up to 36 ounces of beer per person per day.
“Tasting rooms are already having difficulties trying to operate with our extreme limitations to make a good business. To further reduce what we can do is a nonstarter for us,” Millstein said. “It’s a bit of an insult to the community, to have a space in the middle of the community and then say no one can use it.”
Millstein said the change likely originates from members of the industry who may see breweries as their competition.
“I’m sorry if some people think we’re not fair competition. I don’t think that’s true,” he said.
According to Millstein, the growth of the Kodiak brewery has happened in response to demand from customers.
“I’m struggling to keep up with market demand. Maybe they feel like it’s our fault, but it’s a misinterpretation of the way things are evolving,” he said.
The proposed change comes after an effort last year to reduce the cap on tasting rooms’ daily serving limits from 36 ounces of beer to 24.
The Kodiak Island Brewing Co. was established in 2003 and has occupied its current building in downtown Kodiak for the past seven years.
Millstein said the Brewers Guild of Alaska will formulate a response to the proposal in the coming weeks. The organization is a nonprofit trade association with 34 member breweries across Alaska.
The proposed change was posted online on Monday, and public comment will be accepted through Oct. 4.
The next scheduled ABC Board meeting is Sept. 10 at 9 a.m. in Nome. The public can call in at 1-800-315-6338, code 69173#.
Written comments may be sent to AMCO by mail or email or submitted electronically through the Alaska Online Public Notice System. More information can be found at https://bit.ly/2MH2VP5.