By Win Bassett
Photos by Richard Mitchell
On Thursday, January 12, U.S. Representative Brad Miller (D-NC) toured Big Boss Brewing Co. and Natty Greene's Pub & Brewing Co. in Raleigh, NC. The congressman followed the tours with a tasting of each brewery's flagship offerings and spoke with other local brewers about the Small BREW Act and its effect on the North Carolina beer industry.
The Small BREW Act would reduce the excise tax rate of small breweries in the United States on their first 60,000 barrels of beer per year from $7 per barrel to $3.50 per barrel. If a brewery produced more than 60,000 barrels but under 2 million, a rate of $16 per barrel would be imposed on these containers instead of the current rate of $18 per barrel. Only breweries who produced under 6 million barrels per year would qualify for the reduced and new tax rates.
All fifty-four of North Carolina's independent craft breweries and brewpubs fit under the 60,000 barrel limit. Asked by Congressman Miller how Big Boss would use the money saved by the legislation, brewmaster Brad Wynn replied that it would be reinvested by creating more jobs and purchasing more tanks in an effort to make more beer.
After learning about the small business operation of a local production brewery like Big Boss, Rep. Miller discussed how a reduced excise tax rate would stimulate job growth in the brewpub industry with Natty Greene's Director of Brewing Operations and Brewers Association Brewpubs Committee Member Sebastian Wolfrum. Not only would the new tax rate allow brewpubs to hire more brewers, but it would make it easier for the combination brewery-restaurant to bring on more servers, chefs and other food service industry professionals.
Congressman Miller concluded his visit to some of North Carolina's breweries by meeting with other local brewers and brewery owners, such as Sean Wilson of Fullsteam Brewery and the Brewers Association Government Affairs Committee and Jon Connolly of Carolina Brewery. As he listened to how the proposed legislation would impact breweries of all sizes and business models, Rep. Miller noted that while his district covers many of the state's craft breweries, he also represents the people employed by MillerCoors Brewing Co. in Eden and would keep their interests in mind as well.
Regardless of how each brewery or brewpub makes or sells its beer, however, everyone in attendance on Thursday agreed that the Small BREW Act would significantly help the North Carolina beer community continue to thrive.
Win Bassett is co-founder and a freelance writer at http://ncbrewing.org, and he writes for All About Beer magazine's Beer Soup blog. He has contributed to All About Beer magazine, Southern Brew News, the News & Observer and WRAL, and his work has been featured on Public Radio East. Win is also interim secretary of the North American Guild of Beer Writers, a freelance craft beer marketing consultant for SkyBound Studios, a Certified Cicerone Beer Server and a member of the North Carolina Brewers Guild.