Following is The Grumpy Troll's Brewmaster Mark Duchow's impassioned plea to Rep. Theresa Berceau.
October 5, 2009
TO: Representative Terese Berceau
FROM: Mark Duchow, Brew Master Grumpy Troll Brewery, Restaurant, and Pizzeria
SUBJECT: Assembly Bill 287, the Beer Tax
I am writing to you today in opposition of Assembly Bill 287. I do not believe that the benefit of such a tax can overcome the long-term negative impact that would result. The craft beer industry in Wisconsin and its success provides much more than beer to our communities.
I am a 17 year veteran of the craft brewing industry. I was born and raised in Oconomowoc. My great, great grandfather Otto Kerl, also a brewer, settled the area around Cross Plains when Wisconsin was a just becoming a state. Besides brewing I began hop farming in Green County just outside of Blanchardville with the idea of supplying the local breweries, including the Grumpy Troll, with Wisconsin grown hops.
The road to becoming a successful craft brewer is full of long days full of very hard work and very little pay. Craft brewers have a passion found in few industries today that helps keep us going even when times get difficult. However, the brewing industry has taken several financial blows within the past few years because of environmental conditions and the increasing cost of energy. Brewer’s raw material costs have sky rocketed, hop prices are up 400% from 2006, fuel and grain prices have doubled and we are now seeing a possible increase of 400% in our excise tax, all of this during a recession. Because the craft beer industry operates with a slim profit margin, it has become increasingly challenging to remain profitable.
It has been claimed that the increase equals only three cents per 12 ounce can of beer, and this may true, only three cents. Even if this is true, three cents adds up quickly for the craft brewery; three cents will result in employees that have to be laid off, loan payments that won’t get paid, or that next step to success to become desperately out of reach. Three cents for every 12 ounces can, and most likely will irreversibly damage and possibly kill the Wisconsin craft brewery industry and our American dream.
I, like most Wisconsin craft brewers chose to pursue my dream, the American dream in this state that I love. I have become successful doing something I love and hope to continue for many years. Please do not allow this crippling tax hike to become law. Assembly Bill 287, the Beer Tax is not in the best interests of allowing brewers to earn a fair wage and continue to provide a great and diverse product to the citizens of our great state of Wisconsin.
"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government." - Thomas Jefferson