Microbrewery eyeing spot at Carmel Farmers Market

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Opening days is still months away, but organizers of the popular Carmel Farmers Market already are lining up vendors for the summer celebration of Indiana agriculture.

But the fate of (at least) one producer’s participation is hanging on the fate of Senate Bill 16, which would allow the microbrewers to sell their beer at farmers’ markets statewide.

Carmel’s Union Brewing Co.—located less than a mile from the market’s location on the Center Green at Carmel City Center—has expressed preliminary interest in one of its 64 booths despite the uncertainty.

It did last year, too, when a similar bill made it through the Senate but died in the house.

“We told them if the bill passes, we’ll have a spot for them,” said market President Ron Carter, also a member of the City Council. “We would love to have them there.”

The pending legislation would allow carryout craft beer sales—no sampling or on-site consumption—of up to 576 ounces (two cases of 12-ounce bottles or nine 64-ounce growlers), as long as the entire brewing process occurs in Indiana.

Brewers of Indiana Guild lobbyist Mark Webb told The Statehouse File that the measure would allow the state’s 78 microbreweries to expand their reach—and their customer base.

The bill also would even the playing field between craft brewers and farm wineries, which have been permitted to sell their wares at farmers’ markets for years. Bargersville-based Mallow Run Winery, for example, is a Carmel Farmers Market staple.

“It’s a low-cost way for them to get a following on the north side of Indianapolis,” Carter said. “They’ve drawn a lot of people down to the winery.”

Carmel Farmers Market has promised to post a vendor list for the summer of 2014 by mid-April, about a month after the General Assembly is set to adjourn (and its Winter Farmers Market closes up shop for the season). New laws typically take effect July 1.

So what’s your take on the proposal? Ever had a hankering for craft beer when you’re buying farm-fresh sweet corn and fresh eggs?

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