With a stroke of a pen yesterday, Gov. Nikki Haley signed the eagerly anticipated "Pint bill" to expand tastings at South Carolina breweries. Now places like COAST and Westbrook can serve up to 48 ounces of beer to a customer while on-premises over a 24-hour period. The old law allowed only 16 ounces to be served in 4-oz. samples.
The bill was closely watched by Palmetto State hop-heads during this year's legislative session, which ended this week. An original proposal aimed to raise the limit to 64 ounces, intending to make South Carolina breweries more competitive with states like North Carolina which have more generous tasting laws in place. Legislative negotiations whittled down the 64 ounce proposal to 48 ounces, where it eventually won enough support.
COAST Brewing co-owner and S.C. Brewers Association President Jaime Tenny was one of the boosters of the original 16-ounce tasting law. But she told the City Paper in April that those 4-ounce samples weren't enough for visitors — and it wasn't enough business for COAST. Tenny said at that time that she hoped the new law, which she called "a huge victory" in an interview with the P&C, would make the brewery "more of a community center and a place to meet and a place to talk about beer."
Now that the bill is the law of the land, some smaller breweries are being forced to re-examine how best to handle the new rules. Steve McCauley of Frothy Beard Brewing in North Charleston says they're big fans of the bill. But as a small brewery, the law presents challenges for a group of three guys who just like to brew up great beer.
"We will have to focus on other aspects" of how the brewery operates, McCauley says, "it's almost like running a bar." And even though Frothy Beard is ready to pour its Peppermint Porter in its existing tasting room, the new law could lead to expanding the hours from their two or three hour tastings and could mean bigger crowds. Tenny agreed, "it changes everything about the way we operate," she told the AP.
Challenges aside, when asked about the governor's support for the bill, spokesperson Rob Godfrey told the media simply, "Cheers!"
The new law took effect immediately upon Haley's signature. COAST is already serving pints at its twice-weekly tastings, and McCauley says Frothy Beard plans to begin serving pints at tastings beginning next week. You can also grab a case of beer to go under the new law.