Changes in Iowa Microdistillery Regulations Could Cause Growth for Industry

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DES MOINES, Iowa - You may notice a growing club of craft breweries across the state of Iowa, but you likely haven't seen nearly as many microdistilleries.

"There really aren't that many microdistilleries," said Roberty Bailey with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. "There are only 12 right now, and some aren't even producing yet. It's a very labor-intensive, and capital-intensive, venture."

But what's really holding microdistilleries back - if you ask the guys running them - is the regulation.

"One of the things that limits the growth of our business is, we can only sell so much per person, per day," said Kyle Doyle, owner of Iowa Distilling Company in Cumming. "And that's going to be something that we hope we can increase, because when we get more people from out of state, or when we get more people who want to give gifts, we are limited to how much they can walk out the door from our shop."

You can only buy two bottles of liquor from a microdistillery in a single day; these limits don't exist for microbreweries and wineries in the state.

"The other aspect of it is how much we can produce; it almost seems you are being punished for producing more," Doyle said. "Being able to produce more of our spirits, to get out to all of the Midwest, all over the country, is just going to be able to promote Iowa even more."

Iowa microdistilleries can only produce 50,000 gallons per year. Doyle says it hasn't impacted his small business yet, but in the future, it could have implications that strain the ability to grow the brand. But recommendations from the IABD to Governor Branstad and lawmakers would curb these regulations, making it easier for microdistilleries to thrive in the state.

"So, these recommendations are to largely even the playing field, and allow distilleries to have some of the same retail privileges," Bailey said.

Lawmakers have drafted a bill at the Statehouse this week reflecting the changes recommended by the IABD. Distillers hope to see these changes enacted this legislative session, and watch the microdistillery industry blossom here in Iowa.

"That's one of the awesome parts about being in the craft industry, people here are wanting to be part of Iowa and want to have that Iowa feel to it," Doyle said. "So, the craft industry is growing."