Brewery owner calls sales bill 'major breakthrough'

cconley@islandpacket.comMay 26, 2013 

Brewer James Brown is photographed at River Dog Brewing in Okatie on Thursday.

JAY KARR — Staff photo Buy Photo

A bill awaiting Gov. Nikki Haley's signature would allow breweries to sharply increase the amount of beer they can sell directly to customers.

That is a "major breakthrough," according to the owner of River Dog Brewing Co. in Okatie.

"This bill allows S.C. breweries to showcase a much greater selection of beers, and it allows consumers to really explore all that ... breweries have to offer," said Josh Luman, who opened the microbrewery in RiverWalk Business Park less than a year ago.

Although River Dog and the dozen or so other microbreweries in South Carolina already can sell beer to customers, those sales are limited to four pours of 4 ounces each. Breweries also are allowed to sell customers 64-ounce sealed jugs known as "growlers."

River Dog also plans to start putting its beer in cans later this year.

The legislation, which passed the S.C. legislature and would become law if the governor signs it, would let breweries sell each consumer up to 48 ounces a day. That comes to three proper pints.

"Now, there is a far more compelling reason for people to come visit us," said Luman, who with two assistants brews four varieties, including the River Dog IPA and River Dog Coastal Wit.

"In some cases, people have to travel a great distance to come visit our brewery. Now, we feel like we can truly have the opportunity to make this a special place for them and really make it worth their time. This bill will help legitimize S.C. beer in the world beer community," he said.

The legislation received strong support from the S.C. Brewers Association, which took to Twitter and other social media in recent weeks to pressure reluctant lawmakers.

Last week, the president of the association told The (Charleston) Post and Courier that the compromise bill was "a big step forward."

The paper reported that Haley is expected to sign the bill.

Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/IPBG_Casey.

Related content:

River Dog Brewing Co. opens in the Lowcountry, April 30, 2013

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