A beer dispute has turned into a lawsuit. Three Washington breweries are suing the state of Oregon over distribution laws that they claim violates the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause.
Oregon law states outside beer distributors must distribute their products through a third-party middleman, a costly extra step for manufacturers. However, Oregon is able to freely distribute its products directly to consumers in Washington, making what the breweries claim is an imbalanced playing field.
“A state can regulate the transportation under section two of the 21st amendment, but you can’t discriminate”, plaintiffs attorney Robert Epstein said. “That’s what we claim is happening with beer between Washington and Oregon.”
Garden Path Fermentation, Mirage Beer in Seattle and Fortside Brewing Company filed the suit.
“I really see it as a chance to kind of equalize the competition and the beer scenes for both states a little bit more,” said Jon Abernathy, author of “Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon.”
Those involved with the case do not have an estimated time on when this might be settled.
“It could be months, it could be years, it could be a prolonged battle,” said Ron Extract, co-creator and Chief of Garden Path Fermentation. “It kind of depends on how much of a fight the state of Oregon really wants to put up.”
It falls on the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission to enforce these laws, but it’s up to the state legislature to decide which statutes are brought to the OLCC.