WHITSETT (By Sara Burrows, Carolina Journal) — In a special session the week after Thanksgiving, the General Assembly tweaked North Carolina’s liquor laws to allow midsize and large breweries to offer tastings and sell their beer onsite. Previously only small breweries, producing fewer than 25,000 barrels a year, were allowed to do so.
The law was changed as an attempt to attract two midsize breweries — Sierra Nevada and New Belgium — to the state. The California- and Colorado-based companies are interested in creating hubs on the east coast. But neither will come to North Carolina unless the state allows them to sample and sell their beer at the brewery sites.
The owner of Red Oak Brewery — which produces 17,000 barrels per year in the Guilford County community of Whitsett — says the law change won’t help him. While Bill Sherrill appreciates the fact that he can continue offering tastings and retail sales after he crosses the 25,000-barrel threshold, he doesn’t plan to cross it anytime soon. That’s because as soon as he reaches that 25,000-barrel plateau, the law says he’ll have to hire a wholesaler to distribute his beer — every drop.