New Holland Spirits Casks for distilling spirits at New Holland Brewing, in Holland, Michigan. (Adam Bird | The Grand Rapids Press) Guest writer By Guest writer MLive.com on December 17, 2013 at 10:23 AM, updated December 17, 2013 at 10:24 AM Brett VanderKamp, President, New Holland Brewing Co., and Shawn Gary, President, Alliance Beverage Distributing, Grand Rapids Michigan’s local craft brewers and family-owned distributors have collaborated and cooperated for more than a year to find new ways to grow Michigan’s beer industry. In the spirit of compromise, we have found common ground and agreed on reforms that will take Michigan’s successful beer economy to the next level. Now, it is up to the Legislature to approve these reforms, which will promote economic growth and market expansion, while ensuring they happen in a responsible, balanced way. These reforms will usher in the next new chapter of Michigan’s craft beer story, while preserving a pro-growth system that has made Michigan the nation’s fifth largest craft beer state (based on number of breweries per capita), with double digit expansion that far outpaces the U.S. average. In the 1990s, Michigan’s beer industry was still in its infancy. Only a few small brewers were around, pushing the limits of what innovative beer could be. New Holland Brewing Co. was one of those pioneers and to this day, is constantly working hard to enter new markets with new products and expanding our product line. Craft brewers like New Holland work closely with distributors like Alliance Beverage, which delivers quality beverages to the entire western half of Michigan, to reach bars, restaurants, taverns, retail stores and more so more adult consumers can enjoy some of the best craft beers being made in the nation today. In the process, this collaboration has produced mutual growth for both our businesses. It has made Michigan the Great Beer State, brought economic development to many communities and created good local jobs. Now we have an opportunity to step up our game, with the legislative passage of a 10-bill bipartisan package of reforms. These reforms have the potential to benefit businesses involved in beer and, more broadly, in the hospitality and tourism sectors. If approved, these proposals will ensure Michigan businesses can compete on a fair and level playing field and expand their access to new markets. To help small start-up brewers, these reforms will allow them to deliver their beers directly to retailers. By redefining Michigan microbrewers and brew pubs, these reforms will help successful higher-volume producers grow their businesses, expand their operations and create more jobs. To help local businesses that play by the rules, the proposals will speed up the licensing process and eliminate red tape. To address concerns among bars and restaurants that have long wanted to buy glassware with logos, the proposals will now allow them to purchase these items from independent third parties. These reforms represent a major leap in how Michigan regulates alcohol, without sacrificing the basic foundation that has helped law enforcement and public health groups continue their work to promote moderation and rein in over-promotion. Proposed legislation embraces key recommendations in Gov. Rick Snyder’s report to update alcohol regulations. These reforms will keep Michigan’s local beer sector hopping and deserve legislative approval. Good beer, like good reforms, shouldn’t be left to sit around too long. That’s why craft brewers, distributors and businesses in Michigan’s thriving beer sector ask the Legislature to approve this package of reforms and help grow one of the true bright spots in our economy.