Craft distillery boom coming after HB 909 passes


RALEIGH — Beer is big business in North Carolina and liquor is about to join the party with the passage of House Bill 909.

Ever since the North Carolina legislature popped the top on the maximum alcohol level, or AVB, for beer sales, the state has seen a serious influx of breweries, local beer, home brews, bottle shops and even beer-related websites.

The ability to brew high-octane beer and sell it from within breweries opened up a creative window and a major business opportunity for  entrepreneurs.

Now the same opening is there for liquor, thanks to the new law, which will allow businesses like TOPO Organic Spirits distillery to (continue to) produce spirits and sell them on premises.

Here’s the real score for local distilleries: they can now sell bottles of liquor to customers to take home, under a section of the new law.

The beer-brewing industry planted a tentpole in North Carolina thanks to a nearly insatiable thirst — both literally and metaphorically — for craft beer.

Part of the business boom is the quality. There’s literally hundreds of high-end breweries cranking out great product across the state. Part of it is supporting the local economy and helping grow the North Carolina culture. Plenty of the sales factor involves spending time at the brewery, finding a watering hole that’s family friendly and serves good product.

All these items apply to distilleries as well.

TOPO, for instance, offers locally grown products used in its locally produced spirits and the mixes them with local ingredients to create craft cocktails.

There’s an endless flow of revenue back to the folks firing up locally owned distilleries through sales on premise, wholesale distribution, and an incredible opportunity to make your brand go wider than the state itself.

You’ll probably hear some teetotalers shaking fists in the air over the opening up of a pipeline for spirits, but the reality is we’re headed for a craft distillery boom that will benefit the state as a whole.

Strap in, buckle your seat belt and please make sure to drink responsibly.