After two years of struggle, North Carolina's largest craft brewers have reached a compromise with the state's wholesale distributors, allowing them and other big brewers to at least double their annual production.
The compromise was introduced in the General Assembly On Wednesday, in which the sponsors promise, will be the law of the two parties.
Founder of NoDa Brewery, Suzie Ford, and Tim Kent, Managing Director of the NC Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association, welcomed the deal in a joint statement.
"Today, the General Assembly honors the spirit of engagement and collaboration by submitting the Craft Beer Distribution & Modernization Act," they said. "We are confident that its launch will provide additional opportunities for the North Carolina beer industry. This measure will adapt the existing law to create new options for growing breweries.
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Both sides plan a morning press conference in the legislature.
The brewers and distributors have been at odds for more than two years. At that time, Ford, her husband Todd and John Marrino, owners of Charlotte's Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, began fighting for what they called "Craft Freedom"
. They wanted to raise the 25,000-barrel cap for craft beer production. The production of a barrel above forces the brewers to make a costly contract with one of the state's major traders. The so-called franchise law gives traders control over sales, marketing, delivery, quality control and even pricing. And the trader essentially controls the rights permanently.
The efforts of the fast-growing craft beer industry against wholesalers have been strong, a group that has contributed nearly $ 1.5 million in political contributions over the last four years. According to the NC Craft Brewers Guild, the state's more than 200 craft brewers have an annual economic impact of $ 1.2 billion.
The two sides were brought to justice after a House panel approved a watered down version of a bill to raise the ceiling. It would have raised the brewery's annual production ceiling from 25,000 to 200,000 barrels before a brewery had to contract with a distributor.
The compromise announced on Wednesday would create a new category of "mid-sized independent breweries" such as NoDa, Olde Meck and Roteiche. The ability to spread itself would increase to 50,000 barrels. The new law would allow medium-sized breweries to distribute up to 50,000 barrels a year.
Breweries do not lose this permit if they exceed 50,000 barrels. However, this new authorization would only be limited to breweries that sell less than 100,000 barrels of beer each year.