AB InBev, Asheville Citizen-Times, Beer, City Beverage, craftfreedom.org, Heineken, NC Beer, NoDa Brewing Company, Olde Mecklenburg Brewing, Raleigh Brewing, SABMiller, Sipping NC: The Art of Drinking, The Beer Dads, The Less Desirables, The Less Desirables Network, The Man Who Ate the Town
Dear Reader, did you know about the stupid law that stifles the employment and economic growth of the breweries (and local communities) in this state? Perhaps you don’t. To many, and understandably so, it’s under their radar. Most imbibers are blissfully oblivious because it’s not something that the big beer distributors want you to know. You’re asking what it is I’m talking about, I know. Well, I’m going to provide the copy of the petition from CraftFreedom.org and let you read it for yourselves. It goes like this:
In North Carolina, breweries are allowed to distribute their own beer – up to a certain point. A misguided law, created to favor local distributors, now threatens the growing craft beer industry. The law mandates that once a brewery produces 25,000 barrels of beer in a calendar year (which is equivalent to the amount of beer N.C. consumes in about 1.5 days), it must engage beer distributors to distribute all of their beer. The distributor gains ownership of the brand and control over all sales, delivery, distribution and quality control during transportation – basically everything that matters to a company. The brewery loses almost 30% of its revenue and margin to the distributor, a devastating financial blow to any company, and enters a bloated distributor beer-brand portfolio in which it cannot compete or be adequately supported. Finally, regardless of performance, N.C. law makes it virtually impossible to fire a distributor and regain control of the brand. The brewery is locked in forever. Brewery owners have no choice, and no say in what happens to their business. This is currently the law. And it needs to change.
What CraftFreedom.org is petitioning for is that the ceiling of 25,000 barrels be raised to 200,000 barrels. That way there’s more room and more ability for the smaller, more independent and guys trying to make a living (and supply jobs for others) to compete and provide a healthy service to the economy and community.
You see, when the distributors have your beer, it’s added into a pool of other brands that that distributor carries. “Big Beer” like AB-InBev, Miller, Heineken, and their ilk put demands and/or incentives on the distributor to push and promote their beer over the “little guys.” Ever wonder why your grocery store beer selection is 90% Big Beer and that little bitty section is for the better quality and usually better tasting craft beers get the last 10%? I’ll tell you, it’s certainly not because those beer brands taste better. It’s because those big boys pay to have their stuff shoved down your throat. That extends to the purchasers and consumers.
Here in Winston-Salem, while we can still find Olde Mecklenburg Brewing‘s beer here and there, it’s not as plentiful as it used to be. How often do you see Hell Yes, Ma’am!, House of Clay, Moravian Rhapsody here? Probably never, those are from Raleigh Brewing and they’re stuck in Distributor Hell. You’ll see some of NoDa‘s stuff here, but again, it’s not plentiful. These are just some of the breweries that are stifled by this ridiculous law.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think distributors definitely have their place and have done some good. They do push some of those smaller brands, especially to the bottle shops like City Beverage. But, like most of the smaller breweries, I believe the use of them should be voluntary and not mandatory.
I think the executives of those three larger/smaller breweries said it best when they served as guest columnists for Asheville’s Citizen-Times newspaper:
“Imagine for a moment that you start a small business. You invest your life savings, take enormous risks, and work long and hard to make your venture a success. Years later, your hard work has paid off, and your business is growing. You want to invest more money and hire additional employees to expand your production and sales.
“Then state government comes to you and says: Hold it right there. Since you have made your business a success, North Carolina law requires you to give up control of your homegrown product and to transfer your brand rights to a needless third party – outside distributors. These state-mandated middlemen have taken no risk or stake in your entrepreneurial enterprise, they just want to reap the benefits of your hard work and dedication.”
Does that sound right to you? Heck no! If it does, then you’ve got some issues. That or you work for or own one of those a-hole distributors. I would recommend reading the whole article, which you can find HERE. I could go on and on but I wouldn’t do the cause any justice. But, we need to do something about this travesty.
Again, CraftFreedom.org has set into motion a movement to have these nearly 90-year old laws changed. If this bugs you, then you can be part of the collective voice. Go to the CraftFreedom.org website, sign up and sign the petition. It costs you nothing. You can buy a t-shirt if you’d like, but other than that, it costs you nothing but time. If you don’t care and just want to drink the beer that you’re given, then fine, ignore this whole plea.
I, The Less Desirables, The Beer Dads Podcast, Sipping NC: The Art of Drinking and The Man Who Ate the Town, all support this cause and we hope you stand with us and the hundreds and thousands of brewers, imbibers and lovers of beer to give the beer back to the people. Give them Craft Freedom!!
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“The craft beer industry has contributed to the return of local manufacturing jobs and a rekindling of the entrepreneurial spirit in N.C. Our state and world grow and change over time – and the craft beer industry here is both changing and growing along with it. It is common sense that a law that is outdated should be amended to reflect the current times – this is all we are asking for. It’s time for N.C. to support this industry instead of curbing its momentum.” – CraftFreedom.org petition