by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
North Carolina is beautifully unique, encapsulated by stunning mountain views in the west to a sprawling coastline in the east.
In his most recent commentary, Carolina Journal editor John Trump wrote this acknowledgement of North Carolina’s wonderful features which frequently put it at the top of lists for things like livability. One thing that frequently lands the Old North State on those lists is our craft breweries and wineries in the state. Trump writes:
Thriving cities and small towns throughout the state have reinvented themselves after the demise of textiles and tobacco. Places in North Carolina like Morganton, and Shallotte, which, despite the usual machinations involved with city approval, is home to a relatively new brewery that draws customers from the busy restaurants flanking it.
Not only do these companies make North Carolina an attractive place to move or vacation, they also bring economic prosperity. According to Trump:
North Carolina craft beer has an annual economic impact of more than $2 billion and, in turn, supports some 12,000 jobs, the Craft Brewers Guild says. The state’s 200 or so wineries have a similarly large impact.
Trump notes that this success was largely made possible by legislation in 2005 which allowed brewers to raise beer’s alcohol content above 6 percent. North Carolina could see a similar expansion if lawmakers loosen the restriction on alcohol production again, specifically for craft distilleries. Trump writes there is currently a bill in the General Assembly that could help craft distilleries expand their businesses and contribute more to their local economies, Senate Bill 290. According to Trump:
The measure would allow N.C. distilleries to sell malt beverages and unfortified and fortified wine, as well to sell mixed beverages. It also would allow distilleries to sell spirits directly to consumers and would allow liquor tastings at state Alcoholic Beverage Control stores.
The bill, maybe most important, would allow distillers to, much like ABC stores, sell to consumers without facing the current five-bottle-per-person annual restriction, according to state and local laws.
Craft breweries and wineries have been a great thing for North Carolina, Trump writes:
They’re places where families and couples gather, oftentimes with their dogs and children. They aren’t places where people gulp alcohol and get drunk. Rather, people gather to relish the sense of community and the art of the craft.
Craft distilleries could have the same vibrant atmosphere, if only lawmakers would allow it.