Craft brewers sue, say “cronyism” maintains sales middlemen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina craft-beer brewers are headed to court, claiming that state laws limiting how much of their own products they may sell are unconstitutional and preserved by political cronyism.

The Charlotte Observer reports (http://bit.ly/2pDzDpq ) two Charlotte craft brewers sued the state on Monday after their efforts to change the law were sidelined in the General Assembly. Olde Mecklenburg and NoDa breweries claim in their in Wake County Superior Court lawsuit that the state’s annual production cap and franchise law stifle competition.

Brewers can sell 25,000 barrels on their own before they must sign a long-term distribution contract with a wholesaler. Small brewers wanted that limit raised to 200,000 barrels a year.

Change is resisted by the North Carolina Beer & Wine Wholesalers, who say the current system works well.

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Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com