The Pint Bill has been filed. If you haven’t read it, then you can go here: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess120_2013-2014/bills/3554.htm
I’ll also be writing a post on how you can ensure that the bill is passed, but for now, let’s put all the legal stuff into language that everyone can understand. Let’s talk about what the bill does and does not do. First, here’s the relevant language:
SECTION 1. Section 61-4-1515(A) of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
“Section 61 4 1515.(A) Notwithstanding another provision of law, a brewery in this State is
authorized to offer beer to consumers on its licensed premises, with or without cost, for on-
premises consumption provided that the beer was brewed on the licensed premises with an
alcohol content of fourteen percent by weight or less, subject to the following conditions:
(1) sales to or tastings by consumers must be held in conjunction with a tour by the
consumer of the licensed premises and the entire brewing process utilized at the licensed
(2) sales or samples shall not be offered or made to, or allowed to be offered or made to, an
intoxicated person or a person who is under the age of twenty one;
(3) no more than sixty-four ounces of beer brewed at the licensed premises may be sold to a
consumer in a twenty-four hour period;
(4) the brewery must sell the beer at the licensed premises at a price approximating retail
prices generally charged for identical beverages in the county where the licensed premises are
(5) the brewery must remit appropriate taxes to the Department of Revenue for beer sales in
an amount equal to and in a manner required for excise taxes assessed by the Department. The
brewery also must remit appropriate sales and use taxes and local hospitality taxes.
Ok. Let’s talk about the bill does not do in regards to sales for off-premises consumption. While the bill slightly changes some language in that section, nothing changes practically. You can still only buy 288 ounces per day. However you care to break that down is up to you. Growlers, bombers, whatever. Nothing is changing in that department.
Now, let’s get to on-premises consumption. While the legislature could always amend it to say something else, the way the bill is written right now means that you can go to a South Carolina brewery and have up to 4 pints a day. The language is actually written in ounces. So, you can have up to 64 ounces in a day. There are several caveats to this. Let’s get to the easy stuff. First, the brewery has to pay the excise taxes and other taxes. Second, you can’t have pints for free. The brewery is required to charge you basically what the drink would cost if you went to a bar. Though, you’ll probably get a discount below what some of the nicer restaurants charge. Next, the brewery can’t serve underage people or intoxicated people. This might cause some issues as breweries might become a little more crowded. And on a busy night, some ambitious drinkers might be able to sneak a few extra beers. It’ll be up to the breweries to determine how best to police how many beers someone has been sold. Whether that is done through tickets or a punchcard or some other way is not known at this point. But, that will be an issue that will need to be addressed.
Now, the other stuff. So, you can get 4 pints now. But, what happened to the samples and the law regarding samples? Well, in effect, the sample law is gone. However, you will be able to go to a brewery and have samples. You might even be able to go in and have a flight or sample tray of what the brewery has on tap. Which is a good thing if you’re exploring a new brewery or a brewery you like to go to has several new beers on tap. You’ll be able to try them. The good news is that there is no limit on how big the sample can be. The old law’s mandate of 2 and 4 ounce sample sizes is gone. The bad news is that what you consume in samples will count towards your limit of 64 ounces. Say you go in and have a flight of 6 2 ounce tasters, well, you’ve just burned 12 of the 64 ounces you’re allowed to have. Ideally, it makes sense to allow samples on top of the pints. But, that’ll be a discussion for another day.
This bill is a huge victory for brewers if it passes. To be able to serve pints is a huge economic boom for every brewery. Additionally, this will only embolden those who are thinking of starting breweries. Combine these two things and the brewers will be looking pretty strong to move some more legislation down the road.