MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Beer lovers of Wisconsin, rejoice! You're a step closer to getting a free half-can of suds.
Both chambers of the Legislature unanimously gave key approval Tuesday to allow grocery and liquor stores to hand out beer samples up to 6 ounces to a person of legal drinking age.
``It's a good bill. It's a Wisconsin bill. It's a beer bill,'' said Republican Rep. Scott Newcomer one of the measure's main sponsors.
Current state law allows wineries to offer up to 6 ounces of free samples.
Sen. Pat Kreitlow, a Democrat from Chippewa Falls, home of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., is the bill's main sponsor in the Senate. He said the measure would help brewers market a wider variety of specialty brands and compete with wine makers.
Pete Marino, a spokesman for Miller Brewing Co., which has been pushing the bill, said brewers should have the same chance to get the public to taste their products as wine makers.
``It's a great opportunity for them (consumers) to try the beers and figure out if they want to spend their hard-earned money to take the beer home with them,'' Marino said.
Miller and Leinenkugel are subsidiaries of SABMiller PLC.
Mike Fassbender, owner of Fuzzy's Liquor in Sun Prairie, said he probably will stay away from samples. He might be held liable if he hands out samples and the consumer causes damage, he said.
Final passage of the bill won't come until next week at the earliest. Gov. Jim Doyle then would have to sign it into law.