New Law Gives NC Breweries a Boost

In a piece of welcome news, Governor Perdue signed into law a piece of legislation that gives breweries in the state increased access to customers.

HB 796, which passed the legislature in the late November special session, allows all licensed breweries in North Carolina to sell beer and offer on-site tastings. Previous law restricted these events and sales to breweries producing less than 25,000 barrels per year. There is speculation that the legislative action is designed to attract beer producers Sierra Nevada and New Belgium to the state.

The bill is expected to boost the state’s already thriving craft brew industry. There are currently dozens of small breweries in the state, and Asheville, NC was named “Beer City USA” in 2010.

The deregulation provisions were included in a bill that also altered funding for Cherokee County Schools and allows high school students to take non-credit courses at community colleges. The law takes effect immediately with Perdue’s signature.

Let us hope that legislators continue to create jobs this way: deregulation, not corporate welfare deals. This quote from a recent News and Observer article on the issue gave an interesting perspective from a North Carolina entrepreneur on how increased competition will increase benefits for consumers and improve his industry in the state:

Oscar Wong is the founder of Asheville’s Highland Brewing Co., the state’s largest brewery, producing 23,000 barrels a year. He acknowledges the new midsize breweries would cut into his market share.

“As far as competition for us, it may kick our (butt) a little bit, but it’s the American way,” he said.

But Wong, a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, felt conflicted because it would benefit his community.

“As they say, pioneers get shot at more,” he said. “We’ll just have to keep up and do our thing.”