OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill that would officially define mead in state law and allow the fermented honey drink to be sold and refilled in growlers from any place that already offers growlers for beer and cider.
Under the bill signed Friday, the mead sold in growlers must have an alcohol content equal to or less than 14 percent alcohol by volume.
Mead is an alcoholic drink produced by fermenting honey with water, and may also contain things like spices, fruit, and hops.
“This bill is a good thing,” said Jeremy Kyncl, who owns Hierophant Meadery in Green Bluff with this wife Michelle. “It does several things which are beneficial to our industry.
“For one, it provides for a separate, legal definition of mead that clearly defines it as its own distinct category of the craft beverage industry. The provision for growler fills eliminates some legal gray area we had been inhabiting where the cider statues clearly allowed growler fills, but mead was not explicitly allowed.
“Many of us were filling growlers with meads that fit the legal limits followed by cideries, but could not be entirely confident we were living up to our duties under the law. Now we can be certain.”
Because mead was not previously defined in state law, it was considered to be a type of wine and was assessed a levy by the Washington State Wine Commission.
Under the new law, mead producers would no longer need to pay fees to the commission.
Bills like this one, Jeremy Kyncl said, “will put further pressure on the Tax and Trade Bureau to carve out a specific definition of mead in the federal law and also to modernize certain aspects of our taxation.”
– Adriana Janovich contributed to this report.
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