Tucson’s premier beer store just got a little bigger without moving its walls. Plaza Liquors and Fine Wines, 2642 N. Campbell Ave., is almost done with the first major remodel since they’ve been in the building.

Mark Thomson, who has owned Plaza for the past 36 years, says the main reason for the remodel was to allow for more beer and wine tastings in the store. By moving coolers and shelves, Thomson gained 200 square feet of walkable space that includes a small bar without losing any space for the store’s extensive beer and wine selections. Moving a cooler out of the front window also allows for natural light in the store now.

The result, Thomson said, is that the “whole layout is so much more convenient for the customer.” Thomson will charge $1 to $3 for tastings with all proceeds going to local charities.

Santan ships

Chandler’s SanTan Brewing Co. just started shipping beer to Southern California, the first Arizona brewer to sell packaged beer in that state, according to SanTan PR person Jen Pruett. (SanTan is widely available in Tucson).

So what does this mean to us in Tucson? Well, not only do craft brewers have to be smart business people, but also they have to be politically savvy. Last month the Star’s Cathalena Burch reported on the failed efforts of the Arizona Craft Brewer’s Guild to increase a state cap on how much beer a brewer can brew in one year.

Right now the cap is 40,000 barrels and the Guild was asking for an increase to 200,000 barrels. Last year SanTan produced 15,000. The cap will impact their ability to ship beer out of state at some point. For the state’s biggest brewer, Four Peaks, that day will probably be sooner than later.

Barrio Brewing owner Dennis Arnold was involved in the legislative effort. He said there were three components to the Guild’s request to the Legislature: (1) allow brewers to create collaboration beers without the current requirement for an additional liquor license, (2) allow small breweries with tasting rooms to sell Arizona wines without an additional license and (3) increase the production cap to 200,000 barrels.

Arnold speculated that the distributors representing national wine brands fought the bill because they were not included in wines being allowed in small breweries. The Guild’s bill was an omnibus bill, meaning it was all or none. He said, “we’ve learned” and the Guild will be better prepared for the next session.

Paul Pedersen writes a monthly column on Tucson’s beer scene. Contact Paul Pedersen at tucsontapped@gmail.com