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Paul Marshall will buy a new–for–Draught Works filter come January 2018, sooner than the brewery co-owner had planned.

This week, some craft beverage producers in Montana celebrated the passage of federal legislation that cuts the excise tax on barrels by 50 percent. And, it means Marshall can reinvest another $35,000 in his business in 2018.

"Stainless steel is expensive. You need to buy more of it if you're a growing business," Marshall said Thursday.

Draught Works had long planned to buy the filter and undergo a brew house modification, he said, but the passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act expedited the brewery's plans. The legislation takes effect Jan. 1 for two years, according to the Montana Brewers Association.

The legislation was incorporated into the tax reform bill that opponents say will benefit mostly rich people and wealthy businesses. But smaller breweries in Montana are set to benefit as well, and the national Brewers Association notes wineries and distilleries will make gains too.

The national association notes Montana ranked second in per capita craft breweries in 2016 and produced nearly 180,000 barrels.

The Montana Brewers Association said the legislation reduces the excise tax from $7 a barrel to $3.50 a barrel on the first 60,000 barrels for domestic producers. The association counts fewer barrels produced in Montana, some 140,000 a year.

Even at the lower estimate, Nolan Smith, board president, said the nearly $500,000 that will stay in the state as a result is significant, and unlike a recent change in state law that helped larger breweries, Smith said this bill supports all businesses.

"This is something that every brewer in Montana, big or small, small town or big town, will see immediate benefits from," said Smith, also an owner of Philipsburg Brewing Co.

In a blog post Wednesday, the brewers association thanked U.S. Sens. Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Steve Daines, a Republican, for being among the co-sponsors of the craft beverage act.

"Our senators understand that with 75 breweries creating jobs and economic growth in communities across our state, Montana craft beer is good for Montana's economy," Smith said in the statement.

Tester opposed the larger GOP tax plan and described it as "one of the sh----est bills" to come before the Senate. But he sponsored the craft beverage bill as a path to economic development: "These small businesses use Montana grain to make world-class beer and booze."

Daines has also touted breweries in the state: “Montana is home to a vibrant craft brewing industry that supports our robust barley growers and creates more good-paying jobs.”

In a study released in August 2016, the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana noted that beer production had increased 87 percent from 2010, or roughly 13 percent a year, and was only growing with more breweries coming on line.

In the same time period, sales of craft beer increased 111 percent, employment by 204 percent, and payroll by 154 percent, the study said.

The drop in excise tax will allow businesses to reinvest, the brewery representatives said. Smith said the estimated $15,000 that Philipsburg Brewing Co. will save isn't enough to hire another staffer, but it's enough to help purchase some equipment.

At Draught Works, Marshall said the savings represent "real money" that will help the brewery become more efficient. A second and bigger filter will allow the brewery to more easily filter a couple of different styles of beer a day.

"We're obviously still in expansion mode, and we have our wish list of things we want," Marshall said.

As an aside, the brewery is paying attention to the wish lists of others this holiday season too. Pay $2 there, get some paper snowflake-making supplies, and cut out a snowflake to hang in the building, with the dollars going to Watson Children's Shelter for children in crisis.

Incidentally, the season of festivities has Smith celebrating with the Flint Creek Common, a brew that earned a silver medal and pays tribute to mining days in California. German brewers brought their "steam beer" technique to the Golden State, he said, but California permitted brewing at a higher temperature.

"It's an interesting style of beer with a unique flavor profile," Smith said.

Marshall, on the other hand, is two-timing with beer this season, drinking the Full Send Double IPA along with the Last Rites.

"The Mexican chocolate porter has been killing it for us," he said of the latter.

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