New web site pushes bill to loosen SC brewing laws

The push is on to allow more beer makers in South Carolina.

Now, supporters of a bill to give more freedom to brewers have taken their campaign to the Internet.

New South Brewing in Myrtle Beach doesn't do much advertising for its brewery tours, but the owner says beer tourists find them anyway.

"They will google us, they will do whatever they need to do to find us and they show up," says New South Brewmaster David Epstein.

Epstein says New South would like to sell its products in a pub that serves food, but current state law prevents it.

"As an owner of a brewery, I cannot own any interest in a restaurant that sells my beer."

So Epstein and other brewers support a bill that would allow brewpubs to make and sell 500,000 barrels of beer per year.

The limit now is two thousand barrels.

The bill's supporters made a web site that asks South Carolinians to email their lawmakers about it.

The bill's original purpose was to help attract Stone Brewing Company, the San Diego-based brewer that wants to expand to the East Coast.

But the owner of Homebrewer's Pantry in Conway says the bill would really boost the whole brewing industry in the state.

"We've got archaic laws when it comes to what breweries can't do, what brew pubs can do, and we're really probably about the only ones left in the nation that have these laws," says Thomas Lucas.

Lucas says if passed, the bill would help create jobs at the Accent Stainless Steel plant to be built in Loris. The company makes brewing equipment.

But Lucas says a law change could also make craft beer Myrtle Beach's next big tourist attraction.

"I think it's a monster, I think it's really big and it's getting even bigger."

But Lucas and other supporters say time is running out on the bill.

Only about two weeks remain in the current legislative session, and Lucas says if the bill doesn't pass this session, the state will likely lose the chance to attract Stone Brewing.

According to, there are now 28 brewers and brewpubs in South Carolina.