Brewers pour into Olympia to protest proposed beer tax

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Brewers gathered at the Capitol to protest the permanent extension of a beer tax on large brewers that is extended to small brewers under a House budget proposal.

Several state brewers spoke against the proposal at a public hearing Friday, before heading out to the Capitol steps, where about 100 people held a rally, carrying signs including "Give me beer or give me death" and "WA Beer (equals) WA Jobs."

Republicans in control of the Senate agree.

"I think it is absolutely wrong to extend this beer tax, extend it to you," said Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane

The Fish Brewing company of Olympia has made quite a name for itself with its Fish Tale Organic Ale and other signature products. Randy Wans of Fish Brewing said the extended tax would be a recipe for lost business due to higher prices.

"They switch their buying dollar and they don't buy beer from Fish and the rest of the craft breweries and then we have to lay off people because of it," Wans said.

The House wants to permanently extend the temporary beer tax that was set to expire this June, but looks to lower it from 50-cents-per-gallon to 25-cents-per-gallon. The tax would be extended to small brewers at a 15-cent-per-gallon amount. Combined, the tax would bring in $58 million to the state.

The Senate's budget proposal does not include the tax.