I’ll probably revisit this from time to time, but it came to mind this morning. August will mark the seventh year North Carolina stores and breweries have been able to sell beers in excess of 6% ABV. It is amazing how far we have come. Back in the day as I would travel I would hoard beer and come home with carloads of things I could not get locally. Fast forward to today and I no longer have the need to hoard a stash, the beer store is my stash. In the Triangle area we really only had one store which catered to the craft beer scene and that was Sam’s in Durham. While it remains a truly awesome store, closer to home we now have Tasty Beverage and Bottle Revolution in Raleigh and Total Wine has stepped up their game, especially in their North Hills location. Without Pop The Cap, none of that would have been possible.
Let’s live in a world for the moment with no change in our ABV laws. That would mean every brewery would have their hands tied in producing beers with alcohol 6% or lower. There would be no Imperial anything, no Doppelbocks, no strong Belgian styles, etc. It’s not a world devoid of flavor, but it is a world where you only get the 8 Crayola colors in the box instead of the 64 full array of colors in the big box. And that is just how it relates to beer styles, what about to breweries?
The NCABC currently lists 60 breweries in NC. Best I can remember in 2005 we had 33. With at least five new breweries slated to open in NC this year that is double the number in a short seven-year period. The state recently courted Sierra Nevada to bring their new east coast operations here, do you really believe that could have happened if the old ABV laws were in place? Why would you ever move to a place which would not allow you to sell certain products? New Belgium is also seriously considering the North Carolina mountains for their east cost HQ with an announcement promised for April.
When the first small group got together in the All About Beer Durham office way back in the day, we mentioned we might be able to improve the economy of NC with beer, but I don’t think anyone saw this coming. We were after a few pints of beer styles which were illegal to manufacture and sell due to the current law. The fight to change the law was laborious and the PTC leadership and PTC lobbyist did an awesome job.
In the past few years Asheville has repeatedly claimed the title Beer City USA and I now am beginning to wonder if we might one day take the title Best Beer State! Here’s to the next seven years!