Among bills passed by the Missouri legislature before its session ended, Friday, is one that
would let beer brewers lease coolers to retailers, thereby promoting their brands in stores.
The issue was controversial because some, including Representative Keith English (I-Florissant), said it aims to help big brewers regain market share being lost to craft brewers.
“[Anheuser-Busch] InBev is losing market share because of that, so they sat at a table and said how do we get that market share back? We purchase these coolers – that has not been legal … for 85 years – and let them put them throughout the whole store,” said English.
The prohibition on brewers providing coolers is part of Missouri’s three-tiered alcohol distribution system enacted after the repeal of prohibition. English argues the bill is an attempt to weaken that system.
The bill’s handler in the House, Representative Robert Cornejo (R-St. Charles), said several provisions in the bill aim to protect small brewers, including one to keep big brewers from having multiple coolers in one store.
“The original language did not limit the number of coolers. Senate Bill 919 now limits it to one per retailer, per brewer,” said Cornejo.
The bill would also make it easier for people to buy 32-ounce “growlers” of beer, and let customers at restaurants self-dispense up to 32-ounces of wine.
The legislature would have to revisit the issue in three years, if the bill becomes law. It next goes to Governor Jay Nixon (D).