The Senate State Affairs Committee passed an 11th hour measure on Monday morning, which will allow minors inside Idaho brewery beer-tasting rooms—but only after suggesting some amendments.
"We're trying to create parity between two similar but distinct industries: breweries and wineries," said bill-sponsor Rep. Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay). "We have about 50 craft breweries in the state and we're expecting another eight to ten more in the next year."
House Bill 597
would amend existing Idaho law to allow persons under 21 years of age on the premises of a licensed brewery's beer tasting room.
"Current code allows them to enter a winery tasting room but doesn't account for breweries," said Dixon. "We need to add two simple words: beer and brewery."
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls) didn't think it was that simple.
'I don't see a definition of brewery in here," said Davis. "I know I'm probably getting myself all wrapped up around the axles, but we define 'place,' 'retailer' and 'theater' but not brewery. My intent is not to be hostile to this legislation, but the word brewery is an undefined term."
Other senators wondered how a brewery might segregate the tasting area away from the rest of its business so minors would not be around non-restaurant brew pubs that pour and sell beer.
Ultimately, the committee approved HB 597 but agreed to send it to an amending order of the full Senate to include language that defines "brewery." The measure has already passed through the Idaho House.