The Somerville Brewing Company, a relative newcomer to the local craft beer scene—it started selling its beers commercially about 15 months ago—is hoping to open a larger facility in Somerville sometime in 2013, according to Caitlin Jewell, who owns the beer company with Jeff Leiter.
Currently, the company's business office and test lab are located near Teele Square, but the actual batches of beer sold to the public are brewed at Mercury Brewing Company in Ipswich.
"We hope to bring more of our brewing operations to Somerville," Jewell said about the company's goals.
Jewell stressed the beer company hasn't received any permits yet, but it's working to sign a lease, and "that's what we're shooting for," she said.
Since going commercial in the fall of 2011, Somerville Brewing Company has begun shipping its beers to five states other than Massachusetts: Maine, Illinois, Louisiana, Virginia and Vermont. Its beer is also served on 100 draught lines across the state, Jewell said.
"Every month our company has seen growth," she said. She also put the amount of beer they brew in perspective. Somerville Brewing Company makes as much beer in a year as Harpoon Brewery does in a day, she said.
Visiting Beacon Hill
The company is also starting to lobby state government as part of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild.
Jewell and other members of the guild were planning to visit the Massachusetts State House Wednesday in an effort to change what they call "antiquated" franchise laws regarding the distribution of beer.
They're supporting a bill (House Bill 999) that would change the relationship between brewers and wholesale distributors.
Rob Martin, president of the guild, explained that under current laws, brewers, once they choose a wholesaler, have 60 days to decide if they want to keep doing business with that wholesaler permanently.
After 60 days, the brewer can't change a wholesaler without the wholesaler's permission, according to Martin. That usually leads to a lengthy and costly legal process, something a small business, like an up-and-coming brewery, can't afford.
"You need to wed them for life, and there isn't any divorce," Jewell said of the relationship with the wholesalers.
The bill would change the current law so brewers can sever businesses ties with their wholesaler through an arbitration process, Jewell said.
Martin said the current franchise laws don't make sense for craft brewers, which are growing in number every year. At the beginning of 2011 there were 29 members of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild, Jewell said, and now there are 44.
A small brewer that's growing can be restricted when it's forced to maintain a business relationship with a wholesaler that might not fit its evolving needs, Jewell said.
Both Martin and Jewell pointed to the growing microbrewery sector as a generator of new jobs.
Jewell said if her company is able to open a larger facility in Somerville, it would definitely create "new jobs that didn't exist before."