— MADISON (AP) Wisconsin is in the largest mass-market beer battle since the late ’70s, when the Brewers Association began pushing for greater competition in the craft beer market, but the brewing industry is fighting back.
The battle over Madison’s beer brewing industry started with an email sent by the Brewers’ Association in September 2015 to its members.
It included a demand to reduce the state’s reliance on its own brewers, which have grown from around 4,000 in 2015 to over 15,000 today.
Wisconsin’s brewers, for their part, have resisted.
But the email was sent amid the nation’s boom in craft beer, and the state is facing an explosion in craft-brewed beers.
The emails went out in October and November 2015, when brewers in neighboring Minnesota were busy adding more beer to the marketplace and were making big profits.
But Minnesota is now in the midst of a craft-beer boom that’s seen it surpass Wisconsin as the state with the most breweries, breweries and craft-craft beer exports.
The Minnesota Brewers Association says that’s due to a surge in interest in the beer from Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Minnesota and Illinois are the first two states to allow craft brewers to sell directly to customers.
And Michigan is expected to join the list soon.
The Michigan Brewers Guild says the trend is pushing Michigan to become a craft brewer state, and it plans to announce the names of the first eight states by the end of next year.
A Michigan woman said in a November email that she was planning to open her own brewery in Wisconsin in order to compete with Wisconsin’s own brewers.
The email included an attachment of a bill that would prohibit the state from selling its beer to outside distributors, and said the bill would be enacted if it passed.
In the letter, the woman said the legislation was a direct attack on the state of Wisconsin.
The bill died in the Legislature.
The Wisconsin Brewers Guild said the state already has restrictions in place, including a requirement that brewers must be at least 70 percent owned by the state and that all brewpubs must be more than 40,000 square feet.
The group said Wisconsin also requires brewers to use all the state-owned grain they make.
The bills passed the House in December, and in a March 16 veto message, Gov.
Scott Walker said that the laws would have hurt the state, but he vetoed them because they were too broad.
The groups push for a more balanced system, and they are in the middle of drafting legislation that would create a new system to regulate craft breweries and distributors.