New SC craft beer law means customers can buy more of their favorite brews
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolinians can now take home more of their favorite craft beer on their next trip to the brewery.
It’s part of a new state law that could help expand the craft beer business in South Carolina.
The South Carolina Brewers Guild says the “South Carolina Craft Beer Economic Development Act” ushers in the most substantial changes to the state’s craft beer laws in many years.
“The two changes that were enacted by the governor allows for breweries such as mine and the others around the state to have more strategic options in their business planning as they move forward,” Pearce Fleming, proprietor of Commonhouse Aleworks in North Charleston and president of the South Carolina Brewers Guild, said.
Fleming said even though this new law has only been in effect since earlier this summer, customers are already making the most of it.
“The early reports we’re getting from around the state from a Brewers Guild perspective have been positive,” he said.
The first part of the new law affects how much beer you can take home daily from craft breweries in the state.
Before the legislation passed, adults 21 and older were limited to 288 ounces, the equivalent of one case of 12-ounce cans.
That is now expanded to 864 ounces, the equivalent of three cases of 12-ounce cans or two cases of 16-ounce cans, along with smaller, 661-ounce kegs called sixtel kegs.
“That’s huge for consumers across South Carolina who have home kegerators, who are looking to have a retirement party at the house, a wedding, and they want to go in and purchase their favorite South Carolina-produced and -manufactured beer in a sixtel keg,” said Campbell Mims, executive director of the South Carolina Brewers Guild, which counts more than 80 member breweries across the state.
North Carolina doesn’t have any limit on how much beer adults can take home each day from breweries.
South Carolina brewers say upping the limit in this state will allow them to better compete, especially in parts of the state that border North Carolina.
“That’s going to increase tourism. That’s going to increase keeping folks here in South Carolina. That’s going to increase the amount that’s being spent here in South Carolina in local businesses,” Mims said.
The second change in the law allows breweries with multiple like-owned locations to transfer product more easily from one to the other without needing to first sell it to a wholesaler and then buy it back, as they were required to do before.
This practice, called bonded transfer, was already allowed in three dozen other states but illegal in South Carolina before May, when the governor signed the new law.
“That’s the piece that’s going to really contribute to, I think, growing these breweries that are looking into expanding, looking into having a second location, third, fourth, whatever that may be,” Mims said. “I think we’re finally seeing some steps in the right direction for them to be able to have some foundation to be able to do that within South Carolina law.”
There was bipartisan support within the General Assembly for loosening these regulations around the craft beer industry, with the legislation passing both chambers at the State House earlier this year with just one vote against it on the floor.
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