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Craft brew bills pit beer distributors against microbrewers

PIERRE (AP) — Competing bills overhauling rules for craft brewers are pitting beer distributors against microbreweries at the South Dakota Legislature.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-2 Wednesday to approve a distributor-backed bill. A panel passed Gov. Dennis Daugaard's brewer-supported legislation the day before.

The governor's bill would allow craft brewers to produce up to 30,000 barrels annually before losing privileges like being able to sell beer for customers to take away. The limit now is 5,000 barrels.

It would also let microbreweries sell their beer directly to bars. Supporters say the measure cuts regulations on craft brewers.

Senate Majority Leader Blake Curd's bill, supported by distributors, would increase the barrel limit to 12,000, but wouldn't permit self-distribution. Backers say it would allow craft breweries to grow while protecting the three-tiered system of brewers, distributors and retailers.