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Conflict brewing over Montana's liquor system

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports on a growing conflict between Montana's bar owners and craft brewers: "The draft bill is currently sitting in a pile of papers on a legislative staff attorney’s desk in Helena, but the rough outline has caused some upheaval among Montana’s craft brewing industry. It would combine two bills previously lobbied for by the Montana Tavern Association, which represents the retail end of the state distribution system, and build legal walls around the state brewers to keep them on the manufacturing side of the distribution system.

The association wants to do that because it views the evolution of the brewery business model to focus on taproom sales undermines the state liquor licensing system — a system in which license owners have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested. In most cases, the liquor license even serves as loan collateral."

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