Rep. Cunningham's beer faux pas highlights Lowcountry craft breweries
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) —
Call it a freshman faux pas.
First District Congressman Joe Cunningham inadvertently tried to break a rule by bringing beer onto the House floor.
A spokesperson for the congressman says he was trying to schmooze his way onto the House Small Brewers Caucus.
He tried to deliver Charleston-area beer to the chairman of that group. But Cunningham was turned away because it’s against House rules to bring alcohol into the chamber.
A reporter saw what happened, tweeted a pictures, and quickly two local breweries were in the spotlight.
Crowlers are a fan favorite at Westbrook Brewing Company in Mt. Pleasant.
Now the demand for the product may improve after the craft beer maker received unexpected national attention because of an unlikely customer.
"We started getting tagged in different stories from different news sources around town. And it just turns out that he wanted to take some of our beer onto the House floor," laughed Brendan Webb, general manager of Westbrook Brewing Company.
Webb didn't know the customer is a congressman who tapped into Westbrook's products by taking its cans to go - to Capitol Hill during the government shutdown.
"Well at first I thought God you gotta drink some beer to get through this nonsense now. Good for him for trying to do it," he joked.
A reporter for Politico tweeted a pic of three six-packs being carried away by another lawmaker.
They were given to him by Congressman Joe Cunningham.
Webb quickly recognized Westbrook's flagship beer in Washington D.C.-- White Thai and One Claw.
"So this is a stout that we brewed that we're just waiting on labels for," explained Jake Huber, a cellarman at Westbrook. He explains how a new brand of beer can't be sold yet until a federal official reviews their labeling.
"They'll say yes or no. But until the government opens up, they can't say yes or no. We're kind of waiting on them to approve it or not approve it," Huber said.
One of Westbrook's friendly competitors is Coast Brewing Company on the old Naval Shipyard. It’s another one of Congressman Cunningham's favorites. He tried to bring a six-pack of Coast's Dead Arm American Pale Ale to the House floor. But he wasn't allowed.
Despite the controversy, brewers like Brendan Webb believe the local beer scene will benefit from the exposure.
"Any kind of recognition that you can bring to the craft beer industry in Charleston is good for us,” Webb said.
Congressman Cunningham's plan worked.
His spokesperson told ABC News 4 the chairman of the bi-partisan caucus appointed him to the group.
He'll work on efforts to help the state's craft beer industry grow even more.