UPDATE: This post originally stated that this was a South Carolina Brewers Guild initiative, but it is not. At the moment this is positioned as a pro-agricultural bill.
A movement is afoot in South Carolina to get the state to recognize farm breweries as a category similar to wineries. We got the scoop from Brad Thomas, an attorney at South Carolina Attorneys at Law LLC, a firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, startups and breweries get off the ground as well as a co-owner and co-founder of Carolina Bauernhaus, South Carolina’s first farmhouse brewery. Thomas explains it like this:
The South Carolina Farm Brewery bill seeks to allow South Carolina breweries the ability to be treated the same as domestic wineries in this state. This means permitted breweries that produce and sell beer on their premises that use at least 60 percent of the ingredients in that beer which are grown in the state may have the ability to sell the beer at retail, wholesale or both and deliver or ship the beer to licensed retailers in the state or to consumer homes in and outside of the state.
Not only is this a matter of fairness and equality, since this model has already been in place for domestic wineries in our state since 1996, with the support of brewers, agricultural producers, agricultural service providers, agricultural institutions and policy makers, we believe this bill will propel the growth and reinvestment in the state’s brewing industry and the agricultural providers that supply them. In our historically agricultural state, South Carolina is already home to several internationally recognized award-winning breweries, yet we have relatively few total breweries compared to our neighbors in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, so there is definitely room for growth and that growth should encourage growth in other industries in our state.
Thomas believes there is strong initial support and is inviting all “potential stakeholders” in the South Carolina craft beer scene to an information session on August 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the South Carolina State Farmers Market to help secure a sponsor and start formally drafting a bill. Thomas is on the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Brewers Guild but this is not a formal SC Brewers Guild initiative.