Yesterday afternoon, many of the Charlotte area breweries met with Representative Tim Moore, Speaker of the North Carolina House, to discuss brewery-related issues.
Triple C head brewer Scott Kimball and owner Chris Harker led delegation on a tour of their hosting brewery consisting of Rep. Moore and Rep. Chuck McGrady, with Margo Metzger and Alex Miller representing the North Carolina Brewers Guild.
During the tour, folks from Triple C mentioned their recently released “Urban Hop Project,” an IPA favoring North Carolina-grown ingredients, and stressed their brewery’s commitment to keeping revenue in the local market.
After the tour, the delegation gathered around a community table in Triple C’s taproom. Owners and employees of 10 current Charlotte-area breweries, plus one in planning, were on hand.
Introductions were informative, sharing which brewery each person represented, how many full- and part-time employees work at the brewery, and how many barrels that brewery generated last year.
Once formalities were over, Speaker Moore had some questions. Subjects included neighborhood revitalization, state regulation issues, excise tax rates, and self-distribution ability.
“Breweries can be transitional anchors. There’s an entire neighborhood that went from faceless warehouses to being viable, simply because a brewery opened there.” -Ryan Self, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
“We’re starting to see real estate ads for home sales touting which breweries are how far away.” -Todd Ford, NoDa Brewing Company
“My latest check to the Department of Revenue is twice the salary of my highest-paid employee.” -Chris Goulet, Birdsong Brewing Company
Discussion focused on excise taxes for some time, as North Carolina has the 8th highest tax rate on beer in the United States. Brad Shell, owner of The Unknown Brewing Co., pointed out that cutting the excise tax rate would result in new personnel hires, generating additional revenue to the state exceeding the opportunity cost of the lowered rate.
The topic remained beer-centric, with no discussion of the recent decisions by the NCAA and ACC to penalize NC for HB2. (On the subject of Charlotte-area beer bureaucracy, Rep. McGrady declined to weigh in, lightheartedly: “We don’t have a lot of luck in dealing with Charlotte issues recently.”)
Any change to state alcohol laws is met with contention, but brewers were quick to point out their role in the community. Todd Ford pointed out that we’re seeing a stable rate of alcohol consumption in North Carolina, but an indelible shift towards locally-made offerings.
On the basis of one visit, it’s hard to tell how much North Carolina brewers can affect change in next year’s General Assembly, but steps in the right direction were made for modernizing our state’s post-Prohibition-era alcohol laws.