Relax heavy restrictions to boost N.C. distilleries

Our report on North Carolina’s Alcoholic Beverage (ABC) System includes a chart showing many different restrictions North Carolina places on its distilleries that other states don’t put on theirs. The table contrasts “What we can’t have in NC” with what “They can in other states.”

Here’s the table (click on it for a larger size):

Perhaps someday we can, however

Companion bills before the General Assembly, House Bill 378/Senate Bill 290, would address several areas highlighted in the table above. Among other things, the legislation would allow distilleries to:

  • Hold tastings at ABC stores (distilleries can do that in most other states, including every Southeastern state except Florida and Georgia)
  • Receive ABC permits to sell beer, wine, and mixed drinks on premises (distilleries can do that in at least 37 other states)
  • Sell bottles to distillery visitors without limiting them to no more than five bottles in a 12-month period (no longer would North Carolina distilleries face more restrictions on bottle sales to their own visitors than do distilleries in 46 other states)
  • Self-distribute to mixed-beverage permittees and out-of-state consumers (joining distilleries in at least 21 other states that are allowed some freedom to self-distribute)

Those changes would free up North Carolina distilleries from burdensome rules not faced by their peers in many other states. That would be important regardless, but especially so for distilleries, which rely heavily on sales to friends and neighbors —  92 percent of a distillery’s sales are to consumers in its home state.

We can have more craft brewery freedom to self-distribute

With last week’s signing of House Bill 363, craft breweries were given much greater freedom to self-distribute. As Carolina Journal reported:

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.

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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