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Business on tap: A deregulation success story

Nanobreweries - tiny breweries that produce fewer than 2,000 barrels of beer a year - are expanding in New Hampshire thanks to a 2011 state law that relaxed regulations on them. Will legislators close these small businesses next year by returning to the old, more burdensome regulations?

New Hampshire is home to some well-known microbreweries such as Smuttynose Brewing Co. in Portsmouth. These brewers have to pay a $1,200 annual fee to the state and abide by strict regulations on serving beer (along with food, for example). Microbreweries stimulated demand for craft beers, but paying a $1,200 fee and having to be regulated like a restaurant was a big burden for would-be startups. So last year legislators relaxed the rules to give beer afficionados the opportunity to create start-ups in their garages or basements the way tech entrepreneurs famously have done.

It has worked. Nanobreweries like Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth, Blue Lobster in Hampton and Throwback Brewery in North Hampton are popping up and adding to the local economy. These small businesses would be crushed if the state undid this law. Democrats, who now control the state House of Representatives and the corner office, said Republicans went too far in rolling back regulations. This is one rollback that everyone should agree was a good move.

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