Grocery Stores Can Have Beer Tastings
Special Report - July 29, 2009
Beginning October 1, grocery stores in North Carolina will be able to host beer tastings to introduce customers to the growing malt beverage industry in North Carolina. HB 1595Malt Beverage Special Permit received final approval from the legislature July 22. The bill institutes a permit process for breweries, importers, and distributors of malt beverages to conduct tastings in local retail locations, specifically grocery stores. The $100 permit allows no more than four samples of two ounces of beer each to be served to customers over no more than a four-hour period at the retail location possessing the permit. Malt Beverage Special Permit sales are expected to generate $100,000 in revenue in the first year.
Legislators legalized wine tastings in 2001. Since that time, neither the Alcohol Law Enforcement division nor the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commission have received complaints. The bill states that the North Carolina wineries comprise a $1 billion industry in the state.
North Carolina is home to more than 20 craft brewers, many of which expect to take advantage of the new legislation as a form of advertising for their products. According to the News & Observer, Dean Plunkett, executive director of N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association sees the tastings as “a way to market and promote new products ... if a brewery brings a new beer into North Carolina, not everyone knows what it's like, so they hold a tasting. It's just like people trying a new wine or cracker before they buy it."
Opponents of the bill see it as just the latest in a legislative trend away from North Carolina’s unique local control approach to alcohol sales. Four years ago, legislators increased the allowed alcohol content of beer in the state from four percent to 16 percent. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League has taken an active role in opposing the efforts. He has said that “Beer is not like wine. Because it is the beverage of choice, there's more potential for abuse and alcohol related problems.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.