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You can’t donate beer to non-profits in South Carolina

America is full of weird beer laws. In South Carolina, a decades old law prevents breweries (distilleries, and wineries) from donating alcohol to non-profits.

Apparently, the law has been in place for years, but now the state has stepped up the enforcement of this policy. Ultimately, this hinders beer festivals, and how they are organized.

After speaking with local brewery Carolina Baernhaus (Anderson), they tell Beer Street Journal that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has been hiring like crazy the past few years. That has led to increase alcohol related citations, (and increased revenue for the state as well). Since it’s summer festival season, instances of these citations and law crackdowns are apparently increasing.

Enforcement of the no-donation policy means the brewery will have to sell their kegs into the three-tier system, instead of direct donation. Not every brewery in the state has a distributor on record due to their size, ultimately hindering their festival participation.

If you want to hear something even more odd… Earlier this year, [Beer Street Journal] covered a beer festival in South Carolina. A member of SLED, who was not dressed as an agent at the festival, breathalyzed a brewer at their tent who was pouring beer. Why? It is illegal for a brewer to drink any alcohol, and serve a festival patron.

In the end, strong enforcement of this policy could cause both the patron and the brewery to suffer.

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4 thoughts on “You can’t donate beer to non-profits in South Carolina

  1. How many beer festivals are non-profit? And in the event a festival were, a brewery could simply give a donation to the non-profit for the exact cost that non-profit paid to purchase the beer from a distributor. (Your point is well taken, however, if the brewery does not deal with a distributor.) As to brewers not drinking if pouring: that stipulation applies to servers and bartenders in restaurants and pubs in many jurisdictions. Necessary quality control by tasting and spitting would not register after a few minutes.

    • Bartenders are allowed to drink in SC so I don’t see how this is an issue. I like the “reimbursement donation” you brought up. Also I am not familiar if SC has a barrel limit like NC that makes the brewery go through a distributor, a law that a lot of breweries are trying to fight.

    • True, a brewery could donate that keg cost to the non-profit. However, I believe they should have the right to donate what brew and legally produce to any non-profit of their choice without state intervention.

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