Gov. Haley signs Stone Bill for craft beers into law

By Gregory Woods{}

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- Craft beer lovers and microbreweries across the state are saying "Cheers" Tuesday night. Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill that could mean hundreds of jobs in the beer industry.

Brook Bristow, who helped write the bill, said the law removes restrictions placed on both breweries and brew pubs.

"What the bill essentially does is allow breweries to sell food at their business, and brew pubs to distribute their beer," said Bristow, the attorney for the South Carolina Brewers Association.

At Palmetto Brewery, the oldest brewery in the state, workers say they are happy with Haley's decision to sign the bill.

"What it means for us is that the state's now becoming more progressive, changing some laws to really support local small businesses, and we are excited about it," said John Planty, the general manager of Palmetto Brewery.

Planty says the bill will allow their establishment to begin marketing their brand differently.

"A lot of people talk about how great red wine pairs with meat; beer is the same way. Beer goes well with different cheeses, meats and fish, so this gives us an opportunity to switch up and to tap into that market," said Planty.

Bristow says brew pubs would have to give up their liquor license to distribute their product. Still, he believes it's a good trade off.

"Distributing beer has shown time and time again to increase the growth of a craft beer business, so I think it's a win-win for both brewers and brew pubs," said Bristow.

With the new bill in place, Planty believes South Carolinians will begin to see the craft beer industry grow.

"I know the changes will definitely be attractive to other breweries," said Planty. "In fact, I read this morning that Deschutes Brewery is interested in coming to the East Coast, so look out South Carolina."

Bristow says by the end of the month, the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control will create new regulations for breweries and brew pubs, now that they have new freedoms under the law.

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