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Small Brew Act could mean craft beers for less in South Carolina

WASHINGTON (WCIV) -- Beer business is booming in South Carolina after the pint law brought the craft beer industry new growth and adding about $13 million to the state's economy. Now there's a new push for small breweries.The Small Brew Act will mean pints of craft beer will cost less, if it passes.Currently, South Carolina breweries pay a $7 tax on every barrel they produce. If the Small Brew Act passes, that tax could be cut in half."The reason why craft beer in South Carolina is priced the way it is has a lot to do with that tax, that's a really high tax to be adding on," said Chris Brown at Holy City Brewing.The South Carolina Brewers Guild director Brook Bristow is in Washington as a part of the latest move to get Congressional leaders up to speed with the fast-paced growth of craft breweries in South Carolina."It isn't just about beer, it affects communities, it affects the breweries. Passing bills like this helps them to hire more people and you see that down the supply chain when you go to buy beer," Bristow said.The language Bristow is trying to change was actually drafted in 1976, well before the craft beer boom and the creation of the 20 breweries in South Carolina."I hate having to see my pilsner or porter, beers that we brew all the time, $7 a pint out at a bar. I'd love to be able to lower that a bit so the end consumer that's the pint has a lower cost," Brown said.A tax cut could mean so much more than just a cheaper pint at a beer drinker's favorite bar. Holy City Brewing is hoping to add more tanks, increase production, and increase the barrelage to supply the entire state with beer."We want to work with everyone to make South Carolina a better place for craft beer, and it's just taking time to get that message up the ladder," Brown said.That would mean better, cheaper beers and new jobs could be on tap in South Carolina.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott said he appreciates small brewers in South Carolina and across the nation for employing thousands of workers, supporting agricultural jobs and suppliers, as well as encouraging local tourism. He said he supports efforts in Congress to reduce the tax burden on small brewers so they can continue to invest and grow jobs.

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford says he has not looked into the details of the legislation, but said in concept he would be supportive of measures that help small businesses in the state.

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