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Blue Hills Continuing to Brew

Massachusetts regulations would have impacted the local brewery in Canton.

Not to worry, beer lovers. will continue to brew and distribute the local suds in Canton.

Earlier this month, the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission proposed enforcing regulations that would have had an adverse effect on local breweries. But just last week, the state reversed their plans.

The regulations would have required all local breweries with a farmer's brewery license to grow half of the grains they use in their beer.

Up until July 31, the regulation was not enforced, according to Jim O'Neil of the in Canton.

"For someone like Harpoon, it would be impossible," O'Neil noted of the local brew house being able to grow 50% of the grains it uses. "They would need the state of Rhode Island to grow this much."

The only alternative to the farmer's brewery license is a manufacturer's license. But this prohibits a brewer from doing tastings on site or from distributing their own beer.

"We self-distribute our own beer," O'Neil said. "We'd lose 20 to 30 percent of our profit."

O'Neil said he is glad the state held off on enforcing the old, Blue Law regulation.

The original law was created back in the colonial days, for farmers that were growing grains and brewing their own beer, O'Neil noted.

"Our hops come from the west coast and our grain from the Midwest," he said.

Blue Hills donates all unused hops and grains to a farm in Halifax to feed the cows there.

"We have a connection to a farm and recycle our spent products," O'Neil said.

What the state was asking would have been impossible. "You need to grow grains in the Midwest and the hops in Washington and Oregon" where the soil and climate are appropriate, he said.

There is "no way to fulfill what they were actually asking," he said. "The law just doesn't make any sense."

Blue Hills Brewery hopes the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission will continue to talk to local brewers about this issue and consider creating a new license that will fit small-town brewers' needs.

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