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NC names left off list of nation's top-selling breweries

Posted March 28

— North Carolina didn't have any local names on an annual list of the nation's top-selling craft breweries in 2016.

The Brewers Association, a nonprofit group that represents craft brewers, released its list of the country's top breweries based on beer sales volume, which highlighted some well-known names. Left off the list, though, were all the breweries from North Carolina.

Pennsylvania's D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. and Boston Beer Company, which owns Samuel Adams, held down the top two spots among craft brewers. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing Co. and Gambrinus from San Antonio rounded out the top five.

California owned 12 of the top 50, Colorado claimed five and Alaska landed one.

Top 50 craft breweries of 2016

Margo Knight Metzger, executive director of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, attributed the absence of Tar Heel breweries among the top 50 to two things: high excise taxes and distribution laws.

Currently, breweries that make less than 25,000 barrels per year can also distribute their own product. Breweries that make more than 25,000 limit, though, are forced by state law to use a distributor.

State Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) introduced a bill on Tuesday to raise the cap on self-distribution to 200,000 barrels, which Metzger said would be a boon for North Carolina breweries. Reps. William Brawley (R-Mecklenburg), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) and Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) also sponsored the bill.

"We have a handful of really fast-growing, well-respected breweries that could make that list over the next few years," Metzger said.

Increasing the limit has public support, too.

A poll from the conservative Civitas Institute showed that 62 percent of North Carolinians opposed the current 25,000-barrel cap, while 78 percent said beer producers should be allow to self-distribute as long as they follow the laws governing sales.

Metzger said public support along with bi-partisan work in the state legislature would help improve craft beer's standing nationally.

"Our bottom line is that (beer) is a positive industry for North Carolina, and as it evolves, we need the regulations to evolve along with it," Metzger said.

Top 50 craft breweries of 2016

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