SC breweries hope Senate will pass bill to let them sell pints


If just a taste of beer isn't quite enough to wet your palette, a bill going through the South Carolina Senate next week may be of interest.

Micro-breweries in the state think a bill that would allow them to sell pints could change the entire beer industry and increase tourism and tax dollars coming into South Carolina.

The House version of the bill passed last month, but it needs to pass the Senate before it could be signed by Gov. Nikki Haley.

Quest Brewing Company is still a work in progress, but it's expected to open its doors near Greenville's Downtown Airport this summer. Co-owner Andrew Watts said they want to make it an experience, serving beers by the pint and offering live music, as they give tours of the brewing operations.

They won't be able to serve pints, however, unless the bill to increase the amount of beer served on premises of breweries passes.

Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens, on the judiciary committee that will discuss the bill, said criticism of the bill includes concern over higher alcohol content in micro-brews and how much beer one person can get during a visit.

He doesn't want to pass a dangerous law, but he does like the idea of economic development opportunities. That's how the breweries and micro-brew retail stores, like Community Tap in Greenville, see it.

"More breweries here equals more tourism, equals more tax dollars. Everybody benefits. There's no reason for this not to happen," said Community Tapco owner, Ed Buffington.

Quest will be one of just a handful of production breweries in South Carolina, versus around 70 in North Carolina, including bigger West Coast breweries, like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, opening major east coast operations. Buffington said that's been possible in North Carolina, "because they're allowed to sell by the glass on their premises."

Quest Brew master, Don Richardson, joined a group of South Carolina brewers speaking to the House of Representatives. He thinks South Carolina could see employment growth and more breweries if on-site pint sales are allowed.

The judiciary committee is set to hear the Senate version of the bill on Tuesday. Martin said the committee needs more information before any decision is made.

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