Beer bill garners nearly unanimous support

By Ashley Boncimino
ashleyb@scbiznews.com
Published May 29, 2014

A pending beer bill that would make South Carolina more attractive to out of state breweries gained almost unanimous support from legislators on Wednesday, as the House of Representatives and the Senate approved the bill through roll-call votes of 96-0 and 43-1, respectively.

The bill, which would eliminate production limits on breweries and allow them to serve food and offer guest taps from other breweries, still needs to be signed by the governor. Gov. Nikki Haley’s office was unavailable for comment.

Under the existing pint law, breweries can sell only four pints of beer per customer for on-site consumption. (Photo/Shutterstock)

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Under the current Pint Law, breweries are limited to serving three pints per customer for on-site consumption. If the bill is signed by the governor, this limitation would not apply to breweries through their food service operations, though it would still apply if they choose to have an additional tasting room.

The bill would also allow breweries to serve beer and wine products from other brewers, as long as the product is purchased through a wholesaler. Breweries are also required to sell products at prices charged by retailers.

The bill was initially aimed at drawing San Diego-based craft brewer Stone Brewing Co. to the Palmetto State after the brewer sent out a request for proposals for an East Coast restaurant and brewery.

Six legislators and other interested parties had arrived at a compromise Tuesday that addressed concerns from the S.C. Beer Wholesalers Association about potential changes to distribution laws. The compromise ensures that beer distribution laws will remain unchanged.

“We all had the same goal in mind; we just had to change the language,” said Julie Cox, executive director of the wholesalers association. “There are so many craft brewers out there, we’re just trying to make it a friendly environment for them to come to.”

In the past few years, North Carolina has attracted major breweries such as Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues and New Belgium.

In South Carolina, Lexington, Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Greenville have made pitches for Stone. Proponents of the bill say the new legislation would have an immediate impact on breweries already in the state.

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