How about a fresh ale to wash down that cheeseburger at the Williamsport Growers Market?
That's about to be possible, with the state House of Representatives recent approval of a bill that would allow brewers to sell beer at farmers markets, food expositions and beer festivals.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Dante Santoni, D-Berks County, and passed 175-20 on Oct. 2.
Bob Koch, owner of the Bullfrog Brewery, 231 W. Fourth St., along with his son Steve, said he welcomes the arrival of beer at local farmers markets. They think it's a good match for their product.
"We get a lot of food from the farmers markets that we use in our recipes," Bob said.
Santoni, chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee, said he sponsored the bill to give craft breweries in the state- which have gained a larger percentage of the market share during the past several years - a chance to showcase their beers.
"My legislation will allow these small businesses to participate more fully in the nice markets that exist for their products," he said.
Brewers would need to pay a permit of $30 per day or $250 per year fee in order to sell beer at the new venues, according to the legislation. Beer can be sold by the glass, bottle or package up to 144 ounces.
Ann Nordell, board president of the Williamsport Growers Market, said she would welcome a new addition to the event.
"Beer goes with everything, right? There's some very good beer being made in the community," she said.
Nordell said any decision to allow beer to be sold at the market would have to be approved by its board of directors, and based on available space.
Pennsylvania wineries already have the ability to sell their products at farmers markets. Nordell said none have approached the local market.
Heather McNabb, co-owner and brewer at the Selin's Grove Brewing Co., 121 N. Market St., Selinsgrove, said she is in favor of opening up the markets for beer sales. But she thinks wine and beer are different because of their ingredients.
Wines sold at Pennsylvania farmers markets typically are made with mostly locally raised grapes or border state grapes, according to McNabb.
"Pennsylvania beer is not a Pennsylvania agricultural product unless breweries started malting their own Pennsylvania-grown barley and use Pennsylvania-grown hops exclusively, which is not really happening at this point, so it's apples and oranges - or in this case - wine and beer in my mind."
State Reps. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport; Garth Everett, R-Muncy; and Michael K. Hanna, D-Lock Haven, voted in favor of Santoni's bill. State Rep. Matthew E. Baker, R-Wellsboro, voted no.
"I voted against this measure primarily for two reasons," Baker said. "Some of the farmers markets within my district are located on the front lawns of churches, and I do not believe it is appropriate to be selling alcohol for commercial use on church property.
"Secondly, I have not heard from one person in support of selling alcohol at farmers markets whether on church property or not, but I have heard from those that strongly oppose - particularly those attending churches."
The bill moves on to the state Senate for review.