CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation intended to help grow the state’s nascent craft beer has been a success in its first weeks — so much so that many craft brewers are having difficulty keeping up with demand.
That includes Charleston Brewing Co., where owner/brewer Ryan Heastings said the new law is helping push demand for his beers to the brewery’s capacity and beyond.
“I just got off the phone with a wholesaler who’s not super pleased we are having some trouble keeping him supplied with beer,” Heastings said.
Since the law went into effect on June 12, Heastings said, CBC’s sales are up between 30 and 40 percent, driven in part by a change in the law that permits sales of 32- and 64-ounce “growlers” of beer at retail locations other than the breweries.
“We are hearing amazing success stories from retailers and brewers alike,” said Sen. Chris Walters, R-Putnam, who combined portions of a craft beer bill he sponsored into the Tomblin administration’s bill designed to eliminate regulatory and financial barriers hampering the young industry in West Virginia.
In addition to reducing licensing fees, taxes and bonding costs for craft brewers, the legislation lifted archaic regulations that made it difficult for craft brewers to offer retail sales of their products.
Charleston Brewing in particular was hit by a quirk in the old law, which forced it to stop growler sales because the on-premises restaurant at its Quarrier Street location, Black Sheep Burritos, is operated under different ownership.
The new law liberalized those regulations, allowing growler sales at restaurants, supermarkets and other retail locations.
“I think the Legislature did something right this time,” said Lincoln Wilkins, owner/brewer of Blackwater Brewing in Davis, Tucker County…