The craft beer industry as a whole in the US has taken off. There haven’t been this many small breweries since before prohibition and it doesn’t look like it’s stopping any time soon.
That being said, Nebraska’s craft beer scene is….in its beginning stages, to say it one way. Especially here in Omaha. I’d love to know why. Craft brewing brings jobs, creativity, vibrancy and a sense of pride to the community. Each brewery brings it’s own twist to every product and no other city will have that one unique destination.
I have seen some breweries pop up in tiny little towns, like Bootleg Brewers in Taylor Nebraska, and Scratchtown Brewing in Ord, Nebraska, which is awesome. I hope we can see some more rolling into the Omaha area.
One unfortunate issue that I’ve seen that has prevented the sheer variety of craft beers to be able to come into the area is Nebraska’s messed up distribution laws.
Here’s an interesting article (written a few years ago) that lays out the laws around here, especially around distribution. For example, if I’m a brewery and I want to sell to a pub two blocks down the road, by law, I have to go through a distributor and pay a tax for someone to walk it the three blocks down the road. It doesn’t mention in this article, but I’ve heard from multiple sources that if you plan to change distributors, that will cost you a year before you can go with another distributor. I don’t know who that’s supposed to benefit? I guess that puts enough fear into brewers that they’ll never change distributors? That sounds like a state that doesn’t want competition? The epitome of a free market?
I’m guessing because Nebraska is just coming into the craft beer world, the changes just haven’t come yet from a legal stand point (hopefully).
Craft breweries can only benefit the community with jobs, vibrancy and art. I hope that Nebraska will recognize that and push forward to become a hot place for a cold, craft brew.