State Rep. Gage Froerer is again asking lawmakers to allow Utah makers of beer and liquor to allow patrons to sample their products onsite.
Froerer, R-Huntsville, introduced such legislation last year. But GOP lawmakers made an informal agreement among themselves not to pass any substantive alcohol laws in the 2015 session – as pressure was brought to bear to tear down restaurants’ so-called “Zion Curtain” physical barriers.
With no such agreement yet on Republicans’ plates, Froerer says it is time to make his modest changes.
“We already allow tasting of wines made on-sight,” says Froerer, who is one of the few GOP legislators who actually does drink beer, wine or spirits.
With the growth of Utah’s small volume beer and spirits production industry – Five Wives Vodka is in Froerer’s district – more accommodation needs to be made, he adds.
“You’re looking at buying a $50 bottle of vodka, and you want to taste it before you buy,” said Froerer.
Under HB228 if the beer or liquor is produced on-sight, then the firm could set up a tasting room.
Froerer said his bill puts strict restrictions on the size of individual tastings, and the number of tastings an individual could have.
“Overall, in total, one setting of tastings would be less alcohol consumed than in a regular drink” at a restaurant or bar, he added.
For example, the new law would let High West, which is making a name for its whiskey nationally, and recently opened a large production facility just outside of Park City, to allow visitors to taste its products there without having to buy a whole drink at it’s Park Avenue restaurant.
As with all alcohol legislation in the Utah Legislature, the future of HB228 isn’t certain. “But I think we have some understanding (among legislators); I think we can do this.”