Folks with the Montana Tavern Association are working on a bill that would require breweries with larger sample rooms to have a retail beer or all-beverage license.
As it stands now, brewers carry a restricted license that allows sale of their beer in small taprooms. They can only operate between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. and sell a maximum of 48 ounces to each customer, per day.
Folks with the Tavern Association say it would put brewers and taverns on equal footing, since they say many brewers are already operating like bars by providing beer, food and entertainment. Some Bozeman locals we talked to agree.
"It makes sense. As much as I hate taxes and more government regulation, if you're going to apply something, apply it evenly and fairly across the board," says resident Elisha Mann.
Folks with the Tavern Association say by requiring brewers to purchase licenses similar to the ones taverns have, brewers would be free of restrictions limiting how much beer they can sell and when.
Bozeman resident Josh Baldwin says he thinks the new bill would be beneficial to breweries.
"Going to a different license will make the operation more successful, more business. The restrictions will be lifted to where you can serve more than 48 ounces," says Baldwin.
But not everyone's in agreement.
"Breweries are totally different than a tavern, as far as how they operate and how they distribute alcohol. So, you can't really categorize a brewery and a tavern in the same sentence," says Bozeman resident Dan Pickar.
Brewers say their businesses are different than taverns and, therefore, shouldn't have to operate under the same laws. We talked to some brewers who say they're waiting until the language in the Montana Brewers Association's bill is finalized before they speak out.
Others didn't want to appear on camera but told me Montana's liquor laws are out-of-date and this bill would create a stranglehold on craft brewers that are finally thriving under tight restrictions, creating jobs across the state and stimulating the economy.
Folks with the Montana Brewers Association say there hasn't been enough discussion about solutions to alcohol licensing. That's why they're drafting their own bill. It's one that would create a committee of folks to sit down and review Montana's alcohol laws and come up with a lasting resolution based on a study of the state's alcohol control system.
Brewers tell me they're likely to finalize the language in that bill next week.