AP NEWS

Pa. Taps Nearly $800K In Grants To Promote Beer Making, Drinking

December 21, 2018

Hmmmm beer. Pennsylvania has cracked open $791,412 in state grants thanks to a 2016 law that loosened the state’s Prohibition-era system of alcohol sales. Some are to promote beer tourism, including craft beers. Others are to find better ways to grow beer’s vital key ingredients. Other grants go to colleges and nonprofits to create advertising campaigns in more fluid language than Homer Simpson, who once declared: “Homer no function beer well without.” “Increasing the quality, production, and sale of malt and brewed beverages produced in Pennsylvania is vital not only to our growing beer industry, but these improvements also enhance agricultural and tourism opportunities in the Commonwealth,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. “These grants will explore how agriculture can better support brewers, give new tools and resources to beer makers, and ultimately help improve the craft beer experience for Pennsylvania consumers.” The 2016 law was a legislative compromise. The House’s Republican majority wanted to completely sell off the state’s wholesale and retail alcohol system operated by the Liquor Control Board. Democrat Wolf and the GOP-controlled Senate wanted to preserve LCB’s exclusive domain over spirits, while allowing LCB to modernize and let other outlets sell more wine and beer. The bill Wolf signed into law in June of that year allowed wine-to-go sales in supermarkets, restaurants and gasoline retailers that serve prepared food and already have liquor licenses allowing them to sell take-out beer. It created more locations, too, to buy beer and in different quantities. And, it allowed the Liquor Control Board to auction up to 50 dormant liquor licenses per county while expanding the hours state-run liquor stores are open. Most of that extra cash from those expanded sales options drips into state coffers, but LCB siphons some off to promote the state’s beer industry. Since 2016, the state has poured $4.7 million into the suds fund. Lift a glass to the winners: $125,000 — Visit Philadelphia tourism outfit to “market and promote greater Philadelphia’s craft beer and breweries.” $105,000 — Somerset County Chamber of Commerce to create the Pennsylvania Craft Brew Festival, modeled after a regional wine festival, at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. $227,919 — Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences to help farmers market their crops to breweries and vice versa, study the ingredients of gluten-free beer, and promoting the concept of germinating barley to increase production. $72,500 — California University of Pennsylvania to create a hops yard and study how to make the crop more sustainable in Washington County. $71,701 — Shippensburg University to start a job-training program to teach students how to work in the craft beer industry. $59,700 — National Beer Museum Development Group to make a stand-alone display touting “The Story of Beer in Pennsylvania” in Pittsburgh. $50,000 — Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation to “enhance promotion of the existing Cumberland Valley Beer Trail through new photography, videography and marketing campaigns.”