Great Beer State Set to be Greater Beer State


Crooner-to-your-parents James Taylor* may have yearned for Carolina for its moonshine, but I'm betting he'll come back home now for the beer. Why? Deregulation, a beer drinker's best friend, is in the offing for North Carolina, reports the Charlotte Observer:

Beer lovers' options are likely to expand after a small tweak to the state's alcohol laws opens the door for a major expansion of the state's craft brewery industry.

The legislation now before Gov. Bev Perdue would allow all breweries in the state, regardless of size, to offer tastings and sell beer onsite, even beers they produce outside North Carolina.

It's aimed at attracting Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, two well-known midsize breweries, to western North Carolina. But brewers hope it further ferments the state's reputation as a beer capital.


State Rep. Tim Moffitt, an Asheville Republican, said the change would help attract the Colorado-based New Belgium and the California-based Sierra Nevada to open East Coast production facilities, potentially creating about 275 jobs and more than $200 million in capital investments.

Big numbers! Out-of-state competition! But won't that hurt local breweries? No, says folks who would know.

Todd Ford, who opened the NoDa Brewing Company and taproom with his wife a month ago, said he doesn't worry about the potential competition. He feels a law that boosts interest in craft beers or beer tourism will benefit brewers like him.

"If somebody's likely to go to a Sierra Nevada taproom and have a Sierra Nevada beer, they're more likely to try my beer," he said. "I may have to share those sales with Sierra Nevada, but it's much more likely to bring more craft beer drinkers to me."


Oscar Wong is the founder of Asheville's Highland Brewing Co., the state's largest brewery, producing 23,000 barrels a year. He acknowledges the new midsize breweries would cut into his market share.

"As far as competition for us, it may kick our (butt) a little bit, but it's the American way," he said.

But Wong, a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, felt conflicted because it would benefit his community.

"As they say, pioneers get shot at more," he said. "We'll just have to keep up and do our thing."

I spent Halloween weekend 2010 in Asheville, NC drinking at breweries like Wedge and eating at restaurants like The Admiral. While those were standouts, I don't recall having a bad beer or a bad meal anywhere. And with this new legislation on the governor's desk, I anticipate the beer and food scene there–and across the state–wll only get better.

More evidence that deregulation tastes great below.

*Not to be confused with this James Taylor, who in turn should not be confused with Wade Boggs.

Baylen Linnekin is the director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and increasing "culinary freedom," the right of all Americans to grow, sell, prepare and eat foods of their own choosing. To join or learn more about the group's activities, go hereTo follow Keep Food Legal on Twitter, go here; to follow Linnekin, go here.

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  1. Beer-thirty every half hour!

    1. Hey this is the “Anti Balko Nut Punch Friday Story”…Ahh!

      1. Just think of it as an “Anti-Balko Nut Caress.”

  2. As they say, pioneers get shot at more

    People say that? Really?

    1. Forget it, he’s rolling.

      After that “As far as competition for us, it may kick our ass a little bit, but it’s the American way,” comment, I’m willing to cut him slack.

      1. “I may have to share those sales with Sierra Nevada, but it’s much more likely to bring more craft beer drinkers to me.”

        Holy shit! They found two entrepreneurs who finally get it. Deregulation and competition, it really is the American way. I’ve become so used to the “Local Breweries Lobby State to Protect from Foreign Competition” stories that this was a surprise. What a refreshing article. Refreshing like a cold beer. Beer…

    2. “People say that? Really?”

      Yes, people who are more literate than you do.

  3. I wish New Belgium would come to Maine. I haven’t had a Fat Tire in a long time.

    1. You’re not missing anything. It’s the Dane Cook of craft brews.

      1. What’s a Dane Cook?

        1. According to Urban Dictionary:

          The Gallagher of our generation. Dane Cook is a “comedian” that everyone seems to love despite his extreme mediocrity. His amazing lack of jokes combined with his ability to run around the stage like a five-year-old without his meds appeals to anyone without a soul or any knowledge of comedy. His trite and obvious observations contain no punchlines and often appeal to people with short attention spans.

          You ever go into the bathroom and everything is WET? The floor is wet! The counters are wet! Everything’s wet!

          1. He’s a joke stealer but it’s made worse because he steals funny jokes and makes them unfunny but then does extremely well for himself, moreso than the morose motherfuckers he steals from. He also leads a cadre of other unfunny people. Really, no redeeming qualities.

            1. In other words, he’s Episiarch.

      2. I agree, Fat Tire is pretty meh these days. I used to love it, but that was when I could only get it when I visited friends in Colorado. I do enjoy most of the other New Belgium brews though.

        1. These days?

          Its always been meh.

        2. The brewers in Bristol say their switch to flash-pasteurization has had a slight effect to the taste of FT.

      3. I totally agree with that analogy.

        The sad part about that is that it turned me off on the whole brewery. Some of their other stuff is good though, I didn’t notice that til a few months ago cause Fat Tire got so far ahead of itself.

        1. Yes. In fairness, their Lips of Faith series has some pretty good stuff.

      4. Nice. I’m going to use this.

    2. I’m not a Fat Tire fan, but they’ve got a lot of very nice beers. I’ve been working the Belgo lately – good stuff.

      1. It’s been fifteen years since I lived in Colorado, and I’ve been brewing my own for the last ten.
        There’s a good chance I don’t even like Fat Tire anymore and don’t know it.

      2. Fat Tire pays the bills so that they can make their other stuff…which is generally pretty good.

        1. Fat Tire is also a ‘gateway beer’ to better beers. I give it to Miller Lite fans, and if they don’t immediately scrunch their faces up and go “eeewwwww!!!” I hit them with Jester King Black Metal Stout

          1. Ha–what’s the conversion rate with Jester King?

      3. You could do much worse than a twelver of fat tire as an affordable session beer.

        1. This is true, but New Belgium isn’t even the best brewery in Fort Collins. Odells 90 Shilling will do just fine as a session beer…

          1. If I want a session beer I mash 8# pale and 6oz crystal at 148 degrees…

            1. You’d want a higher temp for a session beer, I’d think. Lower mash temps produce higher amounts of fermentables.

          2. Fuck yeah 90 shilling

    3. I’ll trade you New Belgium for Ebenezer’s Pub.

  4. And to think it wasn’t that long ago that NC had a 6% ABV limit on the alcohol content on beer. My brother helped support the “Pop the Cap” movement that raised it to 15%.

    1. That was 2003-2005 for the movement.

    2. An improvement, but still nonsense. Any law that bans the import of Dogfish 120 is a stupid law.

  5. “As far as competition for us, it may kick our (butt) a little bit, but it’s the American way,” he said.

    Wong talks like a man who doesn’t have enough friends in the state legislature.

    1. So does Ford.

      “I may have to share those sales with Sierra Nevada, but it’s much more likely to bring more craft beer drinkers to me.”

      Doesn’t he know that the market is always zero-sum, unlike our wonderful government?

      1. zero sum ? every day brings new legal beer consumers…unless the teapartiers die-off at the same rate.

  6. Sierra Nevada makes a great beer, and as a California brewer, they are choosing to expand out of California. Employers are leaving CA as fast as hippies came in decades ago. The hippies grew up and destroyed the attraction of a beautiful prosperous part of the nation.

    1. In their case, a lot of it has to do with shipping. They are national, so brewing part on the east coast reduces shipping costs and allows the product to get to the consumer fresher.

      1. Ashville and Sierra Nevada looks like a good match.

        Has anybody tasted the new Sierra Nevada Trappist-style ales brewed jointly with the Vina monastery?

        From what I understand, they’re a Belgium/Trappist style something-or-other. I’m not a beer drinker or historian, but it looked like a cool project.

        1. I’ve enjoyed the Ovila Saison and Dubbel. The Quad is too raisiny. Top notch series.

  7. The hippies grew up and destroyed the attraction of a beautiful prosperous part of the nation.

    I think the problem is that too many Boomers never grew up.

    1. Generation Meathead.

      1. Generation Meadhead comin’ up, comin’ atcha.

  8. It seems like every summer weekend for the past couple of years here, local micro-brewers debut their beers at events with bands and art/poster shows — great times!

  9. The legislation now before Gov. Bev Perdue would allow all breweries in the state, regardless of size, to offer tastings and sell beer onsite, even beers they produce outside North Carolina.

    God, I wish this would happen in Texas already.

  10. I met the NoDa folks back the spring.

    And yeah, cool story bro.

  11. Oh, and KY already allows this, for breweries under a certain size.

    Although, regardless, getting a retail license is easier than getting a brewers license, so doing a both isnt a problem anyway.

    I guess, to make it clear, the KY law allows small breweries to give away samples on site, but have to have the retail license to sell, but it isnt an issue (subject to zoning).

    1. I should mention, the “subject to zoning” is actually affecting me.

      The location my brewery is going in is a PEC zone, which is a combination of M2 and C1.

      M2 in the manufacturing level that I need for a brewery, C1 is a commercial level that allows for a package store or a restaurant. However, a bar requires C2.

      So, I could only have a taproom if it was a restuarant, which Im not interested in doing. So, I can only sell by the package out of the brewery.

      But, this isnt a state problem, this is a local zoning problem. If I was in the Enterprise Zone, I could have a taproom no problem (Bluegreass Brewing is in the EZ and has a taproom that doesnt serve food at their brewery).

      1. That’s infuriating. Can you request a change from c1 to c2?

        1. If he greased the right palms he could.

        2. First, what SF said.

          Second, if it was a pure C1 zone, it would be a lot easier to change, but a PEC zone is specifically designed for what it is, its actually much looser than most of the places I looked. Lots were just M2, which would have precluded a retail space at all.

          There is plenty of EZ space, I just dont want to be downtown.

          Im actually fine with the model Im having to go with, I just wanted the choice to do it differently.

          Another thing that is readily available is a CM zone, which is a combo of C2 and M1. So, basically the opposite of the PEC zone. It allows the combination of light manufacturing with more serious commercial.

          The biggest problem, IMO, is that breweries fall into M2 and not M1. It was defined for things like Budweiser breweries, not micros, Im sure.

          1. The solution, if I want a taproom down the line, is find a space in C2, put in a small 1 or 2 barrel brewing system, and use it occassionally for test batches and the like and ship in the rest of the beer to serve in the taproom from the main brewery.

            The key is to figure out just how little you have to brew on the small system without pissing off someone at licensing.

            1. Could you run it in a taproom-esque way by selling growlers? Or is that considered a food service, and therefore a bar?

              1. Growlers are package* sales, Im going to sell growlers from my brewery.

                *they go both ways. Federal law is really weird on growlers, if you pour it for the customer, it is considered a big glass. If its prepoured, its considered a big bottle. A big bottle must have an approved label with the federal warning and etc. A glass doesnt need that.

                1. Which explains why I have to wait forever while they fill my growlers.

      2. What’s the name of your brewery and where is it located? The wife and I will visit some relatives in Indiana/Kentucky this spring, and we always need a beer. Come on robc, self-promote!

        1. Im hoping to be open by sometime in the spring, but no promises. The name has floated around these parts in the past and will again in the future as more things get settled.

          1. And I left off the name.

            Bliss Ave Brewing Company
            lame website (its just a logo right now) at:

            Or follow the brewery on twitter at BlissAveBrews. The twitter has been inactive of late, there should be some twitter announcements thru this month, as some stuff gets wrapped up and headed in the positive direction for a change.

  12. Having lived and gone to school in Asheville, I will say it’s one of the coolest cities in the country. I’d move back in a heartbeat if it weren’t for my wife’s preference for bigger cities and my body’s horrific eye-swelling-shut reaction to the tree pollen there. When I left a few years ago, it was getting more gentrified and losing some of its edge in the name of appealing to tourists though. I do think craft breweries would be a perfect fit for the Asheville audience/tourism industry.

    1. Asheville is loaded with craft breweries, so yes, its the perfect fit. To be honest, its about all I know about the town. That, and it has an artsy/hippy reputation. The two are fairly well correlated, I think.

      1. North Carolina has the right policy about hippies. They are confined to a couple of reservations (Chapel Hill and Ashville). That way they can make their beer and do the other productive things they do. But don’t contaminate or ruin the rest of the state. It is similar to what Texas does in confining all hippies in Austin. Free range hippies are a recipe for disaster.

        1. There are plent of hippies in Houston too but we confine them to Montrose/Westheimer or ship them down to Galveston. The Heights is getting an influx of Austiny hipstery types which has its pluses and minuses.

      2. Downtown’s got kind of a micro San Francisco vibe, but much more affordable and less authoritarian/nanny-statish. West Asheville’s like micro-Austin without the Texas heat. The rest of Asheville’s got the typical American city chain stores/fast food restaurants/shopping mall/etc., if that’s what you prefer. And you’re surrounded with mountains and beautiful nature. Weather’s reasonable year round. It’s not perfect, but all in all it deserves its reputation as one of the best cities to live in.

  13. I’ve recently discovered rice and beans cooked in beer. It’s tasty, and you can have it for breakfast, because the alcohol is cooked out. Just cook a bunch of it on Sunday, and you can nuke a bowl full each morning. Add cheese or meet for extra flavor and protein.

    1. Chicken stock used for rice is much better than water or beer.

  14. Kinda makes you wonder who comes up with all this stuff. Wow.

  15. This is like the worst chat room ever.

  16. Asheville is a hippy shithole .

    1. Although there are certainly many hippies, it’s very hard to call one of the most pleasant and beautiful cities in the country a s—hole. Hippies tend to flock to nice places with good climates and scenery, as much as I wish they’d all just move to Detroit or some crappy middle of nowhere town in the Midwest and leave the good places alone.

      If you let them scare you away, that’s your loss. They smell funny but they’re usually quite harmless.

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