You can dream big. Just not too big.
In this country, we’ve been conditioned to believe that if you work hard enough at something, for long enough, then nothing should stop you from being as successful as you can be. That’s what the American Dream is all about. Unfortunately, it’s not what the law in North Carolina is all about, at least not if you own your own brewery.
How did success turn into a bad thing?
In North Carolina, breweries are allowed to distribute their own beer…up to a point. A misguided law, created to support local distributors, now threatens our growing craft breweries. The law mandates that once a brewery produces a certain amount of beer in a calendar year, it must engage beer distributors to distribute all of their beer. The distributor gains ownership of the brand and control over all sales, delivery, distribution and quality control during transportation – basically everything that matters to a company. The brewer loses almost 30% of its revenue and margin to the distributor, a devastating financial blow to any company. Finally, regardless of performance, NC law makes it virtually impossible to fire a distributor and regain control of the brand. The brewery is locked in forever. Brewery owners have no choice, and no say in what happens to their business. This is currently the law. And it needs to change.
What if years of blood, sweat, money, and tears finally paid off… for someone else?
Under current North Carolina legislation, you have two choices if you own a small brewery:
1) Keep your barrel production under the annual limit – even if there’s a demand for more – just so you can serve and sell your beer as you see fit.
2) Go over the barrel limit and be forced to give up meaningful control over your company’s sales and distribution, and ownership of the brand you built, while becoming just another brand in a distributor’s bloated portfolio.
Instead of asking yourself, “what would I do?” in this scenario, a better question is, “why does this scenario even exist?” Since when does the government tell small business owners who to do business with? That’s a question we should all be asking ourselves in North Carolina.
We believe that distributors play an important role and many breweries choose to work with a distributor. That’s the important word here “choose.” We are only asking that we are given the choice to decide if and when we work with a distributor. Instead of being forced to.