(November 1, 2017) The North Carolina General Assembly recently passed a law (effective as of June 30, 2017) that made some changes to the Alcoholic Beverage Laws of the State; unfortunately, this did not go far enough in helping local breweries capture expansion opportunities.
The new law, Senate Bill 155, allows distilleries to participate in certain special events, and to sell up to five bottles of liquor per calendar year for off premises consumption to visitors who tour the distillery (before Senate Bill 155, the limit was one bottle per calendar year). No record-keeping requirements have changed.
Senate Bill 155 also authorizes certain sales of alcoholic beverages at restaurants on Sunday mornings after 10:00am (so-called “brunch sales”). However, for these sales to be lawful, city or county ordinances will have to be enacted that also allow the sales.
Additionally, some restrictions on non-resealable can packaging for beer (known as “crowlers”) have been eased. Breweries and consumers should be pleased with this addition given the many benefits of crowlers, such as keeping beer fresh, being generally cheaper than growlers, and offering the option of taking the larger aluminum containers to locations where glass typically is not allowed, like swimming pools.
Senate Bill 155 also makes it clear that samples from breweries that are provided to guests as part of a tour (whether paid or complimentary) are allowed, and that employee sampling of the product, for quality, analysis, and education, of course, is permitted.
Unfortunately, Senate Bill 155 did not expand self-distribution caps for craft breweries. A prior version of the bill would have increased the barrel cap from 25,000 barrels to 200,000 barrels; an increase coveted by locally-owned businesses that want to keep marketing and distribution rights in house for as long as possible. Some breweries around the state have had to purposefully slow down or halt production, but unfortunately help has not arrived to date.
We will keep you apprised of future changes that may come down. In the meantime, continue supporting our local breweries and their fantastic products; now you can even do-so at brunch…maybe.