Beer bill that could make way for Stone Brewing Co. approved by House, Senate

A bill that changes the parameters of craft brewing in South Carolina is headed to Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk, and if signed could pave the way for the state to attract California-based Stone Brewing Co.

The House and Senate approved the bill Wednesday, said Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Myrtle Beach. The compromise version of the bill would allow breweries to produce an unlimited amount of beer and also operate on-site restaurants that serve food.

The House voted 96-0 and the Senate, 43-1. Sen. Phil Corbin, R-Greenville, cast the lone dissenting vote.

Stone Brewing has said it will invest up to $30 million and hire hundreds of employees wherever it locates a brewery to serve the East Coast. The California-based company is the 10th largest craft brewer in the country.

“Without this, they would not come,” Rankin said. “We can only hope that with it they will.”

Stone Brewing Co. spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo said in an email Tuesday that the company has not made a decision where it will build its East Coast brewery.

“While we applaud the legislation in South Carolina and any like it, this necessary element is but one of many factored into our decision making laid out in our request for proposal,” she wrote.

Myrtle Beach is among the cities that submitted proposals to lure Stone Brewing. In South Carolina, Charleston, Lexington and Greenville-Spartanburg also submitted proposals.

Brook Bristow, general counsel for the S.C. Brewers Association, called the bill's passage “a historic day for craft brewers in South Carolina,” The Post and Courier in Charleston reported.

“This not only sends a message to the breweries of our state that South Carolina is going to foster, nurture and help you along,” he said. “It also sends a message to other brewers out of state that we want your business, we want you to come here and we will support you.”

The Post and Courier contributed to this report.