UPDATE: 02/28/12 – HB1126 HD1 has been deferred.
UPDATE: 04/22/12 – HB1126 has been merged into HB1314. The bill is going back and forth between the House and Senate. Read more of the support and opposition here.
Hawaii is a growing craft beer market. It was not too long ago when there were only a few breweries in the state and your choices on tap and on shelves were meek to say the least. But that is all changing with new brands being distributed and a number of new breweries opening up and operating here in Hawaii. This is all good for us, the craft beer fan. Locally made and fresh craft beer is not only great for us fans, but it also helps build our local economy. Nationwide local craft breweries are expanding rapidly and with that they hire more people to help grow their businesses.
One of the great advantages we have in our beautiful state is that it is a place that everyone around the world once to come to. The image and even the word “Hawaii” is a huge selling point for not only travel but also for any product. The State of Hawaii has done an incredible job marketing and promoting products and goods that have been “Made in Hawaii”. Just think of Kona Coffee or Maui Gold Pineapples. These are products of Hawaii and people buy them not only because they are awesome products, but they are from Hawaii. But what about beer?
Currently anyone can label and promote their beer as being Hawaiian and give the impression that the product is from Hawaii, even when the product is actually not produced or made in our State. This is the issue at the heart of State Bill HB1126 which proposes that beers sold or distributed in the State whose labels convey the impression that the beers were produced in Hawaii to indicate otherwise, if not produced in the State. Basically it gives consumers the right to know if the product they are drinking is actually made in Hawaii, or made elsewhere and just marketed like it is Hawaiian.
The bill is being supported by local brewery owners such as Maui Brewing Company’s Garrett Marrero and Big Island Brewhaus’ Thomas Kern, who both testified at a recent hearing. The main opponent of this bill is Kona Brewing Company, which operates a brewpub in Kona, but brews almost all of its’ beer on the mainland as part of Craft Brew Alliance. Supporters would like beers not made in Hawaii to include on the label and packaging the beers point of origin. The costs of brewing and packaging beer in Hawaii is significantly higher than on the mainland and many locals and tourists want to support local businesses. When we support local breweries we also support our local economy and the many hard working people who create those beer here locally. This bill, if passed, lends to try and provide clarity for consumers.
HB1126 is currently being reviewed and is scheduled to be decided on Wednesday, February 27th. This would only effect beers sold and distributed in Hawaii, as each state has it’s own laws regulating product labeling. It won’t prevent companies from marketing Hawaii on the products that are produced outside of Hawaii to be sold without proper labeling elsewhere in the country.
To learn more about this bill click here. Does it make a difference to you if you know where your beer was made? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts on this issue.