80% of SC brewers say business is at risk if restaurant restrictions continue


COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- The brewing industry is big business in South Carolina. There are more than 90 breweries in the state employing thousands of people.

The 92 breweries generate close to $800 million in revenue for the state each year. But with restaurants restricted to take out and delivery service breweries in the state could go out of business.

“Our brewers weren’t able to find distribution for kegs since restaurants aren’t open so there’s no one to take those to sell and the only avenue to sell was to have someone physically come to the brewery,” explained the executive director of the SC Brewers Guild, Brook Bristow.

But Governor Henry McMaster’s March executive order put a stop to dine in services was a crippling move for the brewing industry.

Mike Tourville of River Rat Brewery in Columbia explained how a limit to off-site sales hurts business.

“They’re just not buying as much. They’re not even buying half of what they used to. So it’s just crushing. It takes ya legs right from under ya.”

According to the SC Brewers Guild, by April 70% had laid off or furloughed employee. 80% of the state’s breweries said they wouldn’t be able to stay open past 3 months.

Tourville continued, “It’s just crippling any restaurant is crippling if you’re not set up for take out.”

Bristow explained why this downturn in revenue might be hard for many of the breweries to bounce back from.

“These places are young businesses they invested in their workers and new equipment because they were expanding so the cash reserves aren’t there it’s a very concerning time for a lot of people.”

The SC Brewers Guild reports an almost 80% decrease in business since these restrictions first went in place.

Brewers across the state are asking the governor to defer state excise taxes for 2020 and to allow alcohol delivery services.

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