Legislative Trolling Level: Stone


I have had some mixed emotions over Stone’s announcement of coming to the east coast. I love that they are expanding, but I quickly grew tired of every ZIP code east of the Mississippi cluttering up social media with pleas for the craft beer giant to settle in their town. Like anything that gets hyped to that level, I am usually ready for it to go away as soon as it appears.

I don’t think Stone could have reached the level they are at without being smart. They are going to build where the highways meet to minimize transportation expenses. They are going to build where there is sufficient population to staff the brewery jobs with quality people that are willing to work. They are going to build where the disposable incomes of the people that live there can support regular crowds at their classy beer garden and restaurant. I don’t think they are going to merely rely on a Facebook page with 500 likes to make their decision:  “Well, this town doesn’t fit our model and they don’t have any land….but there is this guy with a lot of passion that roped 500 people into clicking a thumb icon. Let’s go there!”

This week though, I had an epiphany. I had been spending significant effort being annoyed with the attention-grabbing mayhem. Then, in a moment of clarity–the kind of clarity that can only be achieved when one spends 30 minutes in a hot shower drinking a cold craft beer–it hit me. Perhaps that is exactly what they wanted.

Stay with me on this. You don’t have to do too much Googling to find that the legislative gears are cranking wildly to pass laws that make Stone’s picking their region an attractive option. As we rebound off of the economic bust of the last 7 years, getting some fresh investment in a growing industry looks pretty attractive to most states. I think Stone is talking about a $30 million investment here. That gets the elected officials all kinds of excited and willing to move on changes to the laws (even in an election year).

All of this deregulation might be trying to influence Stone’s decision, but it is having the side effect of making a more beneficial environment for ALL craft breweries in their jurisdictions. The ramifications of these new laws will be felt long after the fact. I will leave the discussion about what impact these laws will have (I know the law in South Carolina is getting some heat from both sides of the argument) for a different day, but make no mistake, the changes could be significant. There is a broad range of states and municipalities that are anxious to get a piece of the growth in the market, and none seem to be to worried about some archaic laws getting in the way of that.

If my presumption is correct, I applaud Greg Koch and his folks for playing their hand brilliantly. Since you can’t get congress to act without dangling a wad of cash in front of them, we can leave this one hanging out there for a good bit longer to see what else we be accomplished.



South Carolina and Stone, beer legislation brewing in the State Senate

Stone is considering locating in SC.

Well maybe.   We are “on the list” of possible locations for a brewery east of the Mississippi River.  Several of our major population centers (Lexington, Myrtle Beach, Greenville) have made a proposal to Stone to come to their area.  We offer cheap land, people able to work at a fair wage, good highway networks for the beer to be distributed upon and friendly business law and regulation.  Mostly…

The “mostly” is currently being worked on by our state legislature. One of our state’s “beer lawyers”  Brook Bristow  from www.beerofsc.com and others from the South Carolina Brewers Association (Shout out to Jamie at Coast Brewing, I know she’s been working hard at this for years) put together a bill that would allow stone to be both a brewpub and a brewery. Brewpub in that they will serve food, and brewery in that they will distribute.  Currently in SC, a brewpub can make up to 2000 barrels a year for on premise consumption.  They are allowed to sell growlers to of their beer to go, but, they are not allowed to distribute.  You will not see any of our current excellent brew pubs  such as Hunter Gatherer and Old Mill Brewpub here in Columbia at any other bar or restaurant in the city.  On the other end of the beer spectrum, our local breweries such as Conquest and Riverrat can’t serve food. If you want to eat while your’re enjoying a pint there, you had better hope a food truck is there for the day. 

(Here is Brook’s article on “The Stone Bill” )

The new law would allow brewpubs to make up to 500,000 barrels a year and distribute.  This means current breweries could start serving food and convert their license to a brewpub license.  They would no longer be held to the 3 beer max per person per day on primes, and, to my knowledge, no longer be limited by the 288 oz (24/12oz bottles or 4- 64oz growlers) per day limit for off premise.  They would no longer be required to give a tour with each sale.

The law was create to attract Stone, and other large breweries looking for expansion. but would benefit our local breweries regardless of what Stone decides to do.  Any sales made directly at the brewery puts more $ in the small business’s pocket, giving them more income to expand and employee more people.   This doesn’t mean distribution and the three tier systems as we know it will end for local breweries.  People still want to drink local craft beer at other restaurants and bars.  And breweries do not want to own trucking companies, they want to brew beer.  It just means that more local craft beer will be accessible, more money will stay with the brewery, and, people might start to choose local craft beer over mass marked light lager products.

Which is where the letter from Anheuser Busch comes in to play. (A link to “The letter” The folks over at AB wrote a letter to the SC Senate, asking them to please consider not passing this legislation.   The bill “creates winners and losers”…. because the currently legislation doesn’t?   We’re legislating that breweries have to give much of their product to a third party if they want to produce more than they can sell at their own facility.   AB is afraid because they’ll lose market share as more and more consumers become aware of what local, craft beer has to offer.  They would prefer to keep legislation the way it is, as it’s currently in their favor.

We are running out of time to get this legislation passed.  But we have come so far with it so quickly, there is quite a bit of hope in the craft beer community that we’ll get it passed this session.  If the legislature will ignore the letter, and recognize that, while AB does have quite a bit of $ now to buy legislation, they are losing market share every year.  The jobs and the tax dollars generated from craft beer will greatly exceed what’s generated from light lager sells.  AB know’s that, and that’s why they are trying to stop the growth now.   If you’re following craft beer nation on G+, Twitter, or Facebook, look for updates on this bill.  And if you see a link asking you to contact our local legislature, please help South Carolina out and follow through with this.  We sent over 1900 emails in 2 hours last week asking the Senate to pass this bill.  If we need to, I think we can do twice that this week.

We’ve got to stand by our local small businesses and craft beer!  Join me in helping South Carolina Beer!



The Beer Geek and the Beast

My name is Ashley, and I love craft beer.

I love everything about beer, from brewing it to drinking it.  I also love supporting local, small business. And I love the relationships that are formed over beer. Sharing beer is the best! What I hate, however, is the craft beer beast. From trashing other peoples beer choices, to hording rare release beers for themselves or trade bait, sometimes there’s a darker side to craft beer love.

I sat down at a bar several weeks ago and ordered a South Carolina IPA.  It’s not the best IPA on the planet, but, it’s not bad.  A couple wandered up to the bar and asked for a Hop Drop and Roll.  It’s one of my favorites, so, being the friendly gal I am, I asked if they’d had it before.  They said they had, and we struck up a conversation.  Fast forward about 15 minutes and a single fellow walks up and sits at the other side of the bar.  He orders a Bud Light.  There’s a sporting event on. Everyone’s watching,  a commercial comes on, something funny occurs, and we all get to talking.  Then, after a few words, the fellow in the couple asks the single fellow why he’s drinking *hit beer where there are so many craft options on tap here.

The single fellow starts trying to defend his choice.  It’s crazy.  This is no way to convert a light lager drinker!  And Bud Light isn’t a *hit beer!  Is it relatively flavorless….well, yes. But do you know how hard it is to brew a flavorless beer! Is it produced by a massive corporation that only cares about the bottom line, well, yes.  I’m not going to defend them, but, they do brew a quality product and if this fellow likes it, he should drink it.  I’m certainly open to encouraging him to try other beers.  But insulting his beer is NOT the way to do that.

Sadly, that’s not the end of the story.  After the couple and this single fellow civilly disagree about his beer choice, the couple then proceeds to trash just about every IPA on tap at the restaurant except Hop Drop and Roll, Including the one I’m drinking.  I don’t disagree that HDR is the superior IPA, but, that doesn’t make every other IPA out there terrible.  I ended up paying my tab and politely saying goodbye.

Then there’s the white whale hunter.  The person who goes into the bottle shop and says, what’s the rarest thing you have, ok, I’ll take a case of it.  It’s people like this person that cause the rest of us to have a limit. And even with that limit, some people still find a way to break the system. Hunahpu day is the most recent publicized example.  But there have been others, certainly more localized incidents.  I’m all for people trading beer with one another, it’s fun to try brews you can’t get in your hometown. But keeping your local beer loving friends from having that special release because you want to trade with 12 people across the country just doesn’t seem right. Trade one or two, but don’t be greedy. Some of the best beers are overlooked on the shelves because they’re so readily available.

I think to love and appreciate craft beer, is also to want to share it with others.  I would love to see craft beers’ market share jump from 7% to 30%, or more!  But by being a craft beer beast, you’re only keeping craft beer down.  Be a good craft beer geek. Share what you love! Be friendly and welcoming, and don’t hoard all the Double Barrel Aged Sour Stout!

~The Beer Fairy




My Road to Craft Beer Nation


I’m a Hop Head when it comes to Craft Beer.  A big, bold, bitter, tropical Imperial IPA?  Pine, resin, grapefruit, mango, pineapple, bitterness?  Yes please!  Talking to many other Craft Beer drinkers I seem to be in the minority in how I approached Craft Beer and where my palate has journeyed.

Most people I know started on one end of the spectrum, more on the Lager, Wheat, Brown or Stout side and worked their way over time to IPAs.  Me? I dove right in.  A trip to the store found me staring at shelf after shelf of beer and I reached for two: Green Flash Hop Head Red and Stone Arrogant Bastard.

I cracked each open and sipped and They Were GLORIOUS.  I was worthy!  To this day, Stone’s Arrogant Bastard remains in my personal Top 5 favorite beers.  Since then, I spent a year or so devouring every IPA, every hoppy beer I could find, reveling in the majesty that was The Hop.

And then, thanks to beer festivals and craft beer friends I discovered Ommegang Abbey Ale and the world of Belgian Beers opened up for me.

Before I get to joining Craft Beer Nation let me jump back in time to the 1980s.  I hung out in the Irish bars in the Bronx back in the days when the rest of the country had yet to discover Hip Hop.  I didn’t drink back then, not until the late 1980s, on my 23rd or 24th birthday.  But eventually beer found its way to my lips in the form of Rheingold in a bar on St Mark’s Place in the East Village.  However, trips over to the West Village led us to an English pub that also sold, along with their English imports, what I realize now were probably homebrews made in their basement.  This was my original introduction to what would be considered Craft Beer.  From that moment forward my beer intake would bounce back and forth between American macro Lagers and beers from all over the world.

Fast forward to about six years ago when I relocated to the Finger Lakes region of New York State and finally left macro brews behind.  Lagunitas IPA is probably the most responsible for this transformation.  My trip to the store mentioned above where I discovered Stone and Green Flash came the very next day after my first Lagunitas.

As for Craft Beer Nation I got onboard in Google Plus before it was fully open to the public, by chance more than anything and dabbled there for a while.  And then one day I stumbled across G+ Communities and the Craft Beer Nation.  And I noticed they did these Friday Night Hangouts. So I went to their YouTube Channel and watched at least half a dozen of them.  Realizing it was a really good group of people I squeezed into a hangout on my second try and have remained. And over the course of the past year I’ve had fun trying out each different style of beer picked for the week.  If you are wondering about a particular style of beer look for that week’s hangout and in the midst of the camaraderie I hope we impart some tidbit of knowledge.

2013 found me finally working my way in the other direction, exploring things like the Bavarian Heffeweisen and Trappist Beers.  For 2014 I’ve decided to explore the Brown Ale and the Lager, styles that make be go “meh”
and “yuck”. By year’s end I hope to change those reactions to joy and excitement.  Now I’m not expecting an Arrogant Bastard kind of love affair with either style but I hope to come to 2015 having added some more Go To Favorites to my list.



Stone Brewing’s Vertical Epic 12-12-12 – Review Hangout | Craft Beer Nation

OK…we are straying from our normal format of having a general style or theme for the night. We are instead asking that attendees try to find a singular beer: Vertical Epic Ale 12-12-12 from +Stone Brewing Co.. This will give us a chance to compare notes and talk about one brew (ad nauseum, no doubt). We chose this beer for two reasons:

1) It is relatively available to a national market.
2) It has gotten mixed reviews.