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State relents on beer rules for smaller brewers

The state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission today decided to ditch a licensing rule change that would have hurt more than two dozen Massachusetts craft brewers and, the beer makers said, put several companies out of business.

Under the revised rule, brewers operating under a farmer-brewery license would have had to grow 50 percent of the grains or hops they use to make malt beverages, or get them from a domestic source, which many interpreted to mean Massachusetts. That, those in the industry said, would be impossible for most because the state doesn’t produce enough of these necessary ingredients.

The Commission announced the new rule in an advisory last week, but after “significant“ outcry from brewers, farmers, and the public it has decided to pull back.

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After meeting with brewers — including the makers of Samuel Adams, as well as Cape Ann Brewing Co. and Ipswich Ale — state Treasure Steven Grossman said the Commission, which his office oversees had made a “mistake.’’

“The 50 percent threshold will not be implemented,’’ Grossman said. “We realized that perhaps we went a little beyond what was practical.’’

Instead, Grossman said, Commission officials will hold several regulatory hearings across the state to “seek input and testimony from all interested parties’’ on how to come up with common sense regulations for farmer-brewers that will promote agriculture and help create jobs in the state’s growing craft brewing industry, which employs 1,100 people.

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