Beer Distributors Say Yes To Middlemen

The NBWA study comes less than a month after the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington, D.C. policy shop, launched a broadside against the three-tier system, saying the existence of legally-protected middlemen drives up consumer costs and threatens the vibrancy of the craft beer industry by making it harder for microbrewers to sell their beer directly to bars or retail stores.

The CEI white paper was in turn a response to a December broadside from the liberal-leaning New America Foundation that called for protection of the three-tier distribution system as a barrier to big brewers’ efforts to establish hegemony over the U.S. beer market. An article in a recent edition of Washington Monthly argued that allowing big beer and liquor producers to control distribution and drive down consumer prices for alcoholic beverages could lead to an increase in excessive drinking.