News & Thought Leadership from Sulloway & Hollis

April 11, 2022

Legislative Update: New Legislation is Brewing for New Hampshire’s Beverage Industry

Though, unlike the U.S. House of Representatives, New Hampshire’s House does not have a “hopper,” there is new legislation brewing in the Granite State that beverage manufacturers and lovers alike should be keeping their eyes on.

House Bill 1039, an act amending the definition of “beverage manufacturer retail outlet” and certain liquor licenses and fees, is currently pending review at the New Hampshire Senate’s Commerce Committee (“HB 1039”). Just last week, on March 29, 2022, the Commerce Committee held a hearing to discuss HB 1039. The bill has already passed in the House of Representatives.

Currently, in New Hampshire, a beverage manufacturer can sell its beverages and specialty beers to state-based wholesalers, and at one “beverage manufacturer retail outlet.” In order to qualify as such an outlet, the manufacturer must actually produce or manufacture the beverages on-site. HB 1039 seeks to remove this production or manufacturing requirement, to allow beverage manufacturers to open outlets that would operate solely for the sale, sampling, and promotion of the beverage—e.g., a tasting room.

Should this bill become law, New Hampshire beverage manufacturers will have a new opportunity to expand their businesses without opening additional manufacturing or production sites. However, these businesses, and others in the beverage industry, should be aware of the other changes triggered if this bill passes. Specifically, there are two primary adjustments to transportation and licensing requirements:

  1. The bill prohibits licensed carriers from transporting any liquor, wine, or beverage that the New Hampshire Liquor Commission has identified as originating from a non-permitted New Hampshire direct shipper (previously only a 90-day prohibition on transporting identified goods).
  2. The bill eliminates the Liquor Commission’s ability to issue multi-year liquor licenses (previously allowed by RSA 178:23, IV).

The timeline for further action on this bill has not yet been set, but the Commerce Committee would have to issue a report in favor of it passing to bring it to the full Senate for a vote. As this legislation continues to progress through the Senate, we will provide regular updates.