Middle Ages has been brewing beers in Syracuse for 25 years, and it continues to grow. For the past two years, federal tax cuts left the company with more spending money, so it bought new tanks.
"For us it completely went back into the business or reinvested into employees or equipment,” said Isaac Rubenstein, the director of production at Middle Ages Brewing. “It was huge."
The problem is those tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year. If that happens, small brewers would pay twice as much in excise tax. Wineries and distilleries would pay more, too. New York State Brewers Association Executive Director Paul Leone says it could trickle into your wallet.
"Folks love to come to breweries, right?” said Leone. “They like to hang out in breweries, so a tax like this makes it more expensive for them to do business which then is going to be passed on to the customers."
Newer breweries have been saving a few thousand dollars a year. Middle Ages has been saving about $20,000, so they're on edge about losing the tax relief.
"It would be devastating,” said Rubenstein. “Plans for next year might have to change, redo the budget a little bit. Some equipment that's on the list might get crossed off. It might be a part time employee. It would be really bad."
A change in the tax code will not put more established brewers, like Middle Ages, out of business, but could be make or break for smaller breweries.
“Our big fear is if this goes back up, jobs will be lost and business will slow," said Leone.
Leone said he's hopeful the tax cuts will be extended for another year, and his plan is to spend 2020 asking lawmakers to make them permanent. The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2019 is before Congress and would make the tax cut permanent. It has 326 co-sponsors.
The federal spending bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday. The Senate needs to vote before it goes to the president for final approval.