Friday, April 24, 2015

Craft brewers in the crosshairs of regional distributors

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 11:44 AM

As detailed in my previous writing, a “grassroots” campaign of lies and deceit has begun, and North Carolina’s homegrown craft brewers are in its crosshairs. A regional distributor has launched a fight against two bills working through the N.C. General Assembly (H278 and H625) that would allow for continued expansion and success for homegrown brewing operations.

If you’re fuzzy on the background of this dire situation, please take a moment to get caught up. Once you have the appropriate amount of outrage over this smear campaign, I’ll tell you why they’re doing it.

Simply put, the distributors behind this campaign are afraid of losing their free meal ticket. See, when a North Carolina brewery enjoys success, builds name recognition and gets to where they’re making 25,000 barrels of beer a year, they’re legally required to turn over rights to their brands to an outside distributor. As N.C. breweries grow closer to this arbitrary production threshold, this distributor is licking its proverbial lips over the promise of being mandated to make 30 percent off of someone else’s hard work, and they’ll fight any effort to deny them of that meal ticket.

This law is archaic, a relic of post-Prohibition mindset, and it exists in no other industry. In no other industry will manufacturers of a good be similarly penalized by being successful, legally mandated to divest control of the very brands they’ve worked to establish. H278 would up that threshold, allowing breweries to retain control of their own brands just a little while longer.

Time is working against us, though. On April 30, if these bills haven’t advanced through the committee they’re currently stuck in, they’ll die. North Carolina breweries need our help, and here’s where you come in.

I’ve written an e-mail to a Chairman of this committee, Rep. Jon Hardister (see below). It explains what’s on the line if these two bills fail, and offers a vision of growth potential should the bills pass. Should more similar-veined e-mails find their way into the inboxes of the Chairmen and members of this committee, they’ll realize how important these bills are to the future of North Carolina-grown breweries, and hopefully do something to advance them through committee before it’s too late.

Time is of the essence, everyone. Thank you for your consideration, and hopefully your effort.

Dear Representative,

Two bills are currently stuck in your committee (H278, H625) that are vital to the continued success and growth of the North Carolina craft beer industry. Lately, beer distributors launched a “grassroots” campaign of deceit, designed to appear in support of the very industry they’re actually working to stifle.

You can find a break-down of their fear-mongering campaign here:

In recent years, North Carolina has done well by luring massive national craft brewers to our state, searching for a second location. Breweries like New Belgium, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada will certainly invest capital and create North Carolina jobs. But the reason they’re opening a second facility here isn’t because NC’s such a great place to be; it’s because their home states have laws in place that allow them to flourish and expand.

Already, over 130 breweries call North Carolina home. They employ NC workers and pay NC taxes, but they need your help. Please support H278 and H625. It’s great to be a state that’s proud of landing large craft breweries eager to open a second location; it’s better still to help homegrown breweries emulate that success.

Jonathan Wells

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