It’s official, the governor signed bill H.4572 yesterday, so it is now law. That means that breweries and stores in South Carolina can legally allow customers to sample beers. It also allows breweries to sell a limited amount of beer directly to customers from the brewery.
While this is a big step for craft beer in South Carolina and I’m very excited to see progress being made, I have to temper my visions of what will come from this bill.
We’re still a ways off from the scene I witnessed on Friday night at the Highland Brewery outside of Asheville, where they had a band, a trailer grill cooking meat, and kids running around while their parents sat in canvas chairs on the lawn drinking beer and talking.
Bill H.4572 is very limited. It allows for sampling at breweries and stores. You still can’t get a full pint of beer. I don’t know about you, but it’s tough to throw a party when you can only have two ounce samples.
Now, let me try to clear some of my raincloud from the sky. This is still a very important bill for both breweries and beer stores in South Carolina. It allows these businesses to have more direct contact with customers in order to develop relationships and to educate.
That is the foundation of the craft beer industry and why it continues to grow while macro sales are in decline. There’s a reason North Carolina has more than 30 breweries and there are five in South Carolina. This bill had to pass if we were to have any hope of supporting new breweries and growing craft beer in this state.
This is a time to celebrate another victory for craft beer drinkers and those yet to come over to the good side. So get thee to a brewery near you and buy a case of beer.
Here are some of the details from the new bill:
Brewery Tastings & Sales
- Tastings and beer sales must be done in conjunction with a tour of the “entire brewing process utilized at the licensed premises.”
- Samples are limited to four ounces of beer under 8% alcohol by weight and two ounces of beer over 8% ABW.
- Only four brands of beer can be sampled by a customer in a 24-hour period.
- A brewery can sell up to 288 ounces (a case of 24 12-ounce bottles) to an individual per day.
- The retailer must notify the State Law Enforcement Division of the tasting at least 10 days in advance.
- Only eight products can be sampled at a tasting event.
- No more than one container of each product can be open at one time. Not sure what that has to do with anything, but that’s cool.
- Samples can only be two ounces for a beer under 8% ABW and one ounce for a beer over 8% ABW.
- Only two of the products sampled can be over 10% ABW.
- A person can only get one sample of each product.
- A tasting can last no longer than four hours.
- A single retail establishment can only have 24 tastings per calendar quarter.