As we mentioned in yesterday’s Charlotte Agenda newsletter, there has been a lot reported about the two bills in the NC General Assembly that have an impact on our state’s breweries and how their products are distributed. These two bills are 278 filed by Representative Michael Speciale and 625 filed by Representative Chuck McGrady. The bills are drastically different from one another and will have varying impacts on our local Charlotte (and statewide) breweries. Here’s a breakdown of each.
House Bill 278:
- Currently, once a brewery reaches the annual 25,000 barrel cap, they can only sell their beer through a distribution wholesaler, who takes over marketing, selling and distributing their beer.
- This bill raises the annual self-distribution cap from 25,000 barrels to 100,000 barrels.
- It does not look like this bill is going to make it out of the rules committee.
House Bill 625:
- Proposes that breweries be allowed to serve wine and beer in their tap rooms without serving food. Currently, NC vineyards are allowed to serve wine and beer without serving food, however, breweries are not permitted to do so.
- Allows brewer-to-brewer contract brewing, which is not currently allowed by ABC law.
- This bill originally raised the annual self-distribution cap from 25,000 barrels to 60,000 barrels, however this provision has been removed from the current bill due to strong objection from wholesaler representatives in Raleigh.
- Once McGrady removed the self-distribution cap from the provision, he added a provision that excludes any tap room sales from counting towards the 25,000 barrel cap. This sounds like a good idea in theory, however, most tap rooms sells less than 1,000 barrels annually so the impact is very small.
“The word on the street is passing bill 625 will help the self-distributing breweries and that really is just not the case. The only thing that will give distribution options to the breweries approaching the 25,000 cap is the passage of bill 278, which actually raises the cap to 100,000 barrels, where bill 625 might “effectively” raise it to 26,000 (25,000 + about 1,000 from excluded tap room sales).” – Todd Ford, Co-Owner NoDa Brewing Company
How you can help local craft breweries
The bills are currently with the committee on alcoholic beverage control and must be passed by the house or senate on April 30 to become law this year.
Dive deeper with these 3 reads
- “How self-distribution could decide the future of Charlotte craft beer” by Matt McKenzie
- “North Carolina Breweries and Distributors Battle Over Bills” by Daniel Hartis
- “Craft brewers in the crosshairs of regional” by Jonathan Wells