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Change Is Brewing For NC Beer Scene

Olde Mecklenburg, and NoDa breweries lead Craft Freedom campaign to change brewing laws

CHARLOTTE, NC — Two of North Carolina’s most well-known craft breweries have joined forces to fight a state law that limits growth and stifles freedom of choice for consumers and small businesses.

Initiated by The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (OMB) and NoDa Brewing Company (NoDa), Craft Freedom is a grassroots coalition of more than 60 breweries and businesses throughout the state. The state law in question forces NC breweries to outsource all distribution to a third party once a brewery produces more than 25,000 barrels of beer per year.

OMB and NoDa are on a trajectory to exceed 25,000 in 2016 — an amount that is less than three-tenths of one percent of the more than 8-million barrel NC beer market. Both have vowed to not surpass the arbitrarily low state-imposed “limit” until the law is changed. “We want to control our destiny and not be forced to give up our most valuable asset — our brand,” says Suzie Ford, NoDa co-owner/president. “If we exceed the brewing cap and are forced to go with a distributor, we will have to lay off 11 employees. Local jobs are at stake.”

Under current law, a local brewery has no choice. At 25,000 barrels, it is forced to enter into contracts with wholesale distributors whose portfolios are crowded with hundreds of competing brands, including those of global beer conglomerates. The brewery is required to transfer ownership of its brand to the distributor, as well as control of all sales, distribution and quality control during transportation. Plus, the brewer must accept an almost 30-percent reduction of its revenue and margin for the distributor.

This law isn’t just an issue for OMB and NoDa — it has impacted businesses across the state, and will affect more as the number of breweries continues to grow along with interest in locally made craft beer. This NC law tilts the scales in favor of global beer conglomerates over its own local brewers. “Less than four percent of the beer consumed in North Carolina today is actually made in our state,” says OMB founder John Marrino. “When local breweries make and sell their beer, over 90 cents of every dollar remains in North Carolina.

This money is re-invested in the local economy through working with local vendors, wages for brewery employees, and state and local tax revenues. When beer is made elsewhere, 75 percent of the revenue leaves the state as a wealth transfer. In NC, that amounts to billions of dollars per year leaving our state. Not all things can be made locally, but beer can and should be.” The goal of Craft Freedom is to educate and empower craft beer fans and small business advocates throughout the state, in order to change the barrel cap law for the benefit of the citizens of North Carolina and the NC economy.

MORE ABOUT CRAFT FREEDOM Craft Freedom is an initiative to change the North Carolina law that restricts the independent growth of breweries by placing an arbitrary cap on the amount of beer they can self-distribute. Join the movement: sign up and show support for small business’ rights, for creating and keeping wealth in North Carolina, and for access to local beer made by your favorite local breweries.

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