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July 20, 2012

 

Cortland beer aided by state support

New tax credits for breweries enacted

CortlandJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland Beer Co. brewmaster Tom Scheffler stands in the brewery’s Court Street facility in this file photo.

By MATTHEW NOJIRI
Staff Reporter
mnojiri@cortlandstandard.net

Cortland Beer Co. owner Dan Cleary said new state tax credits announced Wednesday could save his growing company $10,000 annually.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into legislation new tax credits for craft breweries that will save them 14 cents per gallon for the first 500,000 gallons they produce and 4.5 cents per gallon for the next 15 million gallons produced in the state.
Cleary said support for craft breweries is growing among elected officials who see craft breweries as an example of “buying local.”
“Majority of people like a fresh product,” Cleary said. “The majority of people like a beer every once in a while. It’s one of the few industries that’s actually seeing a big growth spurt.”
Cleary said there are about 90 craft breweries in the state and another 20 that are expected to open next year.
Cortland Beer, located on Court Street, is increasing production, he said. Last year, it produced about 800 barrels of beer. He expects to nearly double that total this year.
A barrel is 31 gallons of beer.
The company’s beer is distributed in Cortland, Ithaca, Elmira and Syracuse. Cleary said he is also working with distributors in Binghamton and Oswego, as well as Chemung and Cayuga counties.
The company sells 22-ounce bottles and is also moving into draft beer.
“We’re trying,” Cleary said. “Manufacturing is very expensive. To keep the lights on you have to keep growing.”
The state is also eliminating $150 brand fees for breweries that produce fewer than 1,500 barrels of beer a year. Cleary said the move would save his brewery about $3,000.
“It keeps cash in the bank,” he said, adding that the tax credits and label savings would help the company prepare for any equipment upgrades.
Cortland Beer distributes kegs to over 15 locations throughout Cortland County.
The brewery opened in 2010 at 16 Court St. Last August it received a $35,000 microenterprise grant from the city of Cortland to help finance an expansion, which included adding two 40-barrel tanks last year and a few smaller tanks.
In December, it opened a new tasting room next door to the actual brewery at the former Midtown Shoe Repair shop.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer toured the brewery in February 2011 and pushed for legislation that would cut the excise taxes on small breweries in half. Cleary said that effort has stalled in Congress over the last few years, but said he was glad New York state was trying to help.
Cuomo on Wednesday traveled to the Matt Brewing Co. in Utica to sign the state legislation giving tax credits to craft breweries.
“In addition to producing some of the finest beer in the world, New York’s craft breweries are creating jobs, supporting our state’s farmers and hops growers, as well as bringing in tourism dollars in local communities across New York,” Cuomo said in a news release.

 

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