You probably thought that all beer enthusiasts problems were over when prohibition was repealed on March 23, 1933. Not so! At least, not if you live in South Carolina…
South Carolinians won a major battle for beer last May, when the restriction on high gravity beer was removed, allowing for the sale of beer with a higher than 6.2% ABV. However, there is still at least one more major hurdle that we face, and most people don’t know about it. There is a pretty ridiculous law in South Carolina that basically says that if you brew beer and distribute it, you can’t sell it on the premises that it is brewed on. Essentially, that means that you have two choices, either be a brewpub and don’t distribute, or if you want to distribute, you can’t sell (or even give away!) beer at the brewery.
Ok, you might be saying to yourself, “That does seem kind of stupid, but who cares? I can just go to the store and buy it. Why would I ever want to go to the brewery to buy beer?” Well, would you ever want to go straight to a baker to buy fresh bread, or a butcher to get the freshest meat? Not only that, but we as consumers in South Carolina are denied the cool experience of a brewery tour, complete with samples in the tasting room after the tour.
If you’ve never done a brewery tour, go to some other state and go on one! It is so much fun! On a trip to Milwaukee a couple summers ago, one of the funnest afternoons Nicole and I had was when we toured Lakefront Brewery one afternoon and sampled their variety of beer. That was one of the best parts of the trip (along with frozen custard, cheese curds, Brewers baseball, brats, and more frozen custard).
Not only is it fun for people to tour the brewery and sample beers right from the source, it is also a great benefit to the breweries themselves. They can drive a lot of traffic into their facility, build good will and buzz (no pun intended! :) ), and it provides one more outlet to sell their beer and merchandise. It’s just good marketing. The more outlets that microbreweries have, the better.
What can we do about it if we want to join the cause? We can support our advocate in the trenches, Pop the Cap South Carolina. They have taken up the fight for beer in this fine state. Representative Bill Herbkersman has agreed to sponsor a bill to make this change, so it will be going before the statehouse this year. So stay tuned and be on the lookout for the results of this legislation coming up later this year.