Bill expanding craft brewers’ freedom heads to the governor

Carolina Journal reports:

That bill, House Bill 363, maintains the current three-tier system — producers, wholesalers, and retailers — and adds a new, mid-level classification of brewers to state law. Brewers, under the proposal, could self-distribute 50,000 barrels of their products, as opposed to the current 25,000. The legislation also gives growing brewers more flexibility in choosing where and how to distribute their beers around the state.

Breweries that exceed 50,000 would not lose the ability to self-distribute, although the new law would affect only those breweries that sell fewer than 100,000 barrels of beer per year. Now, if a brewer sells 25,001 barrels per year, by state law, every barrel produced — including the first — must go through a third-party wholesaler/distributor.

In an earlier research brief I cited this bill as an example of modernizing alcohol regulations not on the broad scale, but by making practical fixes in individual areas of law. I also looked at how North Carolina compares with other states in terms of allowing breweries to self-distribute, and how that could change:

[North Carolina is] one of the 36 states that allow breweries to self-distribute, which is good. But it’s one of the more restrictive states in that cohort — 24 states give breweries more freedom to self-distribute than North Carolina. Eight of those states have distribution limits higher than 25,000 barrels, ranging from 30,000 to 3000,000 barrels, and 16 don’t have distribution limits.

So North Carolina currently ranks 25th out of the 36 states that allow breweries at least some ability to self-distribute. …

If it passed, how would North Carolina rank among the 36 states that allow breweries to self-distribute? The state would move up in the rankings to 20th.

The problem with ranking, of course, is that there’s a 16-way tie for first place.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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