A pair of separate ordinances that would clear the way for brewpubs and microdistilleries, and expand wine, beer and liquor tastings at area retail outlets are set to be introduced at next week’s Metro Council meeting.
“We have restaurants and we have bars and we have breweries like Tin Roof, but under present city-parish law we would not have the ability to have, say, like the Abita brewpub (in Abita Springs),” says councilman Ryan Heck, who has introduced the ordinance to allow for the permitting of microbreweries and microdistilleries, and set fees for those permits. “This is about economic development.”
Meanwhile, councilman Buddy Amoroso is introducing an ordinance that would expand the current wine sampling license to allow for on-site samplings of beer and liquor, as well as reduce the cost of an annual license from $600 to $120.
“In East Baton Rouge Parish right now, you can have a wine tasting, but if you want to have beer or liquor you have to get a special events permit,” Amoroso says. “This is really just to try to help some of our local businesses. If Whole Foods or Calandro’s or Alexander’s or someone else wants to have a beer or liquor tasting, they’ll be able to.”
Amoroso, along with council members Chandler Loupe and C. Denise Marcelle, are co-sponsoring Heck’s ordinance. As for the timing of it, Heck says he’s heard that there are several groups considering Baton Rouge as a potential location to open a brewpub, where beer would be brewed onsite and served in a bar and restaurant setting.
“We wanted to clean up the law so anyone interested in pursuing this can do their due diligence … and it’s my understanding that there are some people interested in it,” Heck says. “It would also allow for a restaurant and bar like The Chimes to begin brewing their own beers and serving them at their restaurants if they wanted.”
Both Heck and Amoroso say their ordinances will simply bring city-parish law in line with state laws on the matters. The ordinances are up for introduction at Wednesday’s meeting, meaning they won’t be up for a public hearing and broader discussion until the Oct. 14 meeting.
Issues involving alcohol have historically been contentious among the council, but Heck says he thinks there will be support for his ordinance. Along with the three co-sponsoring members, he says two other members will support it.
“We’ve been talking about doing this for a pretty long time, and we’ve just been working on the language,” he says. “We’re going to have broad support.”
The council will convene at 4 p.m. Wednesday on the third floor of City Hall, 222 St. Louis St. See the full agenda.