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Mix together being the buckle of the Bible belt with old school self-dealing politics and you get a cocktail called South Carolina’s liquor laws.
The Palmetto state is known for many things. But progressive liquor laws are not something South Carolinians can’t point to. It wasn’t until 2005 when bars and restaurants were allowed to serve liquor from something other than mini-bottles (‘nips’ to you folks from up North). The state held out for a long time with mini-bottles. In fact, South Carolina was the last state to allow free pour from regular sized bottles.
Around the country and around the world the growing popularity of craft beer has forced states to progress with the times. States like North Carolina revised their laws to allow small craft brewers to serve their product at their breweries. Brew-pubs exploded in the Tar Heel state.
South Carolina, on the other hand, held out on updating their laws. Change like this needed to be studied for a long time, over one and a half ounce mini-bottle beverages.
Then a nationally known brewery set its eyes on locating and setting up shop in the state. The only problem was their business model would have been illegal in South Carolina. At the time, you could only make the beer and over small amounts of product samples. No brewpubs, like in North Carolina.
A coalition of craft brewers, beer fans, and small business banded together to go up against Big Beer forces in the statehouse. Armed with common sense arguments honed over many samples of IPA batches, the coalition made their economic development case to lawmakers.
The “Pint Law” and the “Stone Bill” legislation packages passed. South Carolina is now experiencing a boom in brewpub growth.
But how the craft beer and other forms of booze get to you is still a throwback to a bygone age where Big Liquor and Big Beer controlled the market and distribution.
The state’s notoriously rigged three-tiered licensing distribution system is the next fight to modernize South Carolina’s liquor laws.
The coalition that successfully advocated for the “Stone Bill” and “Pint Law” are eying changes to the antiquated distribution systems. Retailers are banding together to level the playing field with efforts for Sunday sales across the state and product sampling opportunities for shoppers.
South Carolina’s liquor laws are on the verge of getting an upgrade.