New law could affect craft breweries in the Cape Fear

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A decades-old law restricting craft beer sales in North Carolina is no more, allowing more expansion in an ever-growing market.

Over the past few years, microbreweries have been popping up all over North Carolina. With 20 in the Cape Fear alone, it’s clear the industry is continuing to grow.

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Now a new North Carolina law will make that growth a little easier.

“We’re moving in the direction of no ceilings, no artificial roof on a brewery, so we kind of control our own destiny,” said Wrightsville Beach Brewery owner Jud Watkins.

On Thursday, Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 363 into law. It raises the barrels of beer a brewery can produce before requiring commercial distribution from 25,000 to 50,000.



“To be forced to sign up with a distributor is not something any craft brewer, or really any business wants to hear,” Watkins said.

Watkins says he expects Wrightsville Beach Brewery to produce about 2,500 barrels this year. While that’s nowhere near the newly raised limit, he says it’s nice to know they have the ability to grow even more.

“It’s a move in the right direction, whereas it might not affect us this year, or next year, it’s a good thing overall for small independent businesses,” Watkins said.

But could more freedom mean more competition? Watkins says he isn’t worried.

“Each time we’ve seen new breweries open up in town, we’ve actually seen bumps those weekends,” Watkins said. “I think it’s a presence of mind thing for folks, cause they’re thinking local, they’re thinking craft beer.”

Click here for more information about Cape Fear craft breweries.