State Beer Bill Has No Local Impact - Brevard, NC
Last updated 5/31/2017 at 7:58pm
Local craft beer brewers say that legislation limiting their production won’t affect their business like some other North Carolina beer brewers. HB500 was introduced to the General Assembly, in an attempt to raise the state limit on production to 200,000 barrels before the company is required to enter into a distribution agreement.
But lawmakers gutted the bill before it came to a vote, and two Charlotte breweries, NoDa and Olde Mecklenburg, have sued the state of North Carolina, alleging cronyism between the N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers, a distributor, and the state. The cap on barrel production is now 25,000 barrels.
Local craft brewer Kyle Williams, owner of Brevard Brewing, said that the legislation wouldn’t affect him, but he thinks businesses should be able to operate as they choose.
“I’m making about 1,000 barrels a year, so I’m not anywhere close,” said Williams. “I actually just signed with a distributor. I find it hard to believe they could make that much and not distribute it. Old Meck does and I’m fine with it. I don’t care if they want to make that much and distribute it. I don’t see a big change, but I think people should be able to run their businesses however they want to. But if you’re making that much, it makes sense to do it. But less regulation the better, within reason, as far as I’m concerned.”
Bill Zimmer, co-owner of Ecusta Brewing, said that the opposition to HB500 was more of a free-market principle.
“There’s good reason for it, but people have distribution partners to get there beer out there. The way it stands right now, people don’t like it. Our local state Rep. Cody Henson voted against it. There are plans for more breweries coming to the county. It’s a big industry here and there’s no opposition for it,” said Zimmer.
Oskar Blues already makes more than 200,000 barrels of beer a year in their Brevard location, and their marketing director, Aaron Baker, said that they already work with distributors across the state, the U.S. and internationally.
“We were supportive of HB500 as a part of the larger North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild’s legislative agenda,” said Baker. “Since the Guild is not involved in the new lawsuit, which arose after the barrel cap was removed from HB500, we don’t have a comment on it at this time.”
Attempts to contact the Guild were unsuccessful as of press time. Statewide, craft beer production has an economic impact of $1.2 billion, according to the Brewers Association. According to Democracy North Carolina, craft beer distributors claim about 4,000 employees and a $1.9 billion economic impact statewide.