Senator Schumer calls for lower taxes on hard cider and craft beers

Posted at: 11/01/2013 5:34 PM
Updated at: 11/01/2013 5:37 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

Senator Charles Schumer tours Golden Harvest Farms in Valatie
Senator Charles Schumer tours Golden Harvest Farms in Valatie
Photo: WNYT

VALATIE - It's a good year for apples and the associated products.

Apples that aren't perfect for retail selling are just fine for cider making or distilling into various apple-based liquor products.

Golden Harvest Farms produces six types of spirits in an operation they began about 2005.

Senator Chuck Schumer toured the set-up Friday and did some limited sampling.

Right now Golden Harvest doesn't make hard cider, which is fermented to create an alcohol level that differentiates it from regular cider, but has much lower alcohol content than the distilled spirits.

The Grout family is reluctant to expand to hard cider because current tax policy makes it problematic.

Hard cider at 7% alcohol gets taxed like beer, 23 cents a gallon. If the apples have just a bit more sugar that then gets converted so that the alcohol measures 8.5 per cent or more, the product gets taxed like wine, almost five times as much per gallon.

"I intend to push the CIDER Act," Senator Chuck Schumer (D - New York) said. "It's not very expensive, in fact, with the volume going up, I'll bet the federal government will make more money than they do the other way."

After visiting the Valatie farm Senator Schumer crossed the Hudson River to tour Crossroad Brewing in Athens.

They are currently required to pay an excise tax of seven dollars a barrel for its production of approximately 950 barrels a year.

Schumer would like to get that tax halved, assisting several thousand small brewing operations throughout the country.