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Why a state law is causing Olde Mecklenburg Brewery to pull back its expansion

The beer business is booming in Charlotte. Two new breweries opened in the past few months and even more are planned or in the process or opening. More established breweries have been moving into new, larger locations or opening second locations.

The growth is great — to a point. Just ask Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.

Here’s what happened

The city’s oldest and largest brewery started expanding into the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point area early last year. It leased a big distribution warehouse in Greensboro that would allow it to distribute more beer to that market.

Recently, the brewery announced it is “pulling back” on that Triad expansion because of a state law, according to a release.

What law?

Basically, if a N.C. brewery brews 25,000 barrels of beer (or more), state law requires it to turn over distribution to a third-party. OMB doesn’t want to do that. It would rather continue using its own sales and distribution team, which OMB believes allows it to have larger market share, provide better service and develop stronger relationships.

In 2015, OMB brewed slightly less than 20,000 barrels and was on track blow through the 25,000-barrel cap this year. OMB’s current facility could brew as many as 100,000 barrels per year, according to this Charlotte Business Journal story.

“To prevent going over the cap, we will be forced to stifle our growth, directly decreasing new hiring and promotions in 2016,” OMB founder John Marrino said in the release. “In order not to underserve Charlotte — our home market — we are preemptively pulling out of the Triad.”

What else?

OMB is the first to hit this cap in the city but, the way things are looking, it won’t be the last. NoDa just opened a second, larger location. According to this CharlotteBeer.com post, NoDa Brewing was on track to brew 14,000 barrels in 2015 and could hit 20,000 this year with the new facility.

“It’s one of those laws of unintended consequences,” OMB Director of Sales Ryan Self told CBJ. “It takes OMB from something that is growing every year as an employment and tax creator and puts us in a holding pattern.”

In other headlines …

The transformation of Stonewall begins … 

The Stonewall corridor in uptown will look very different in a few years, and that process officially got underway yesterday. Officials broke ground on a development that will include a Whole Foods, 450 upscale apartments and two hotels. Click here to see photos and renderings of what the development will look like.

Thomas Davis = Good dude.

The Carolina Panthers linebacker was named the Bart Starr Award winner yesterday. The award is given to the NFL player who exemplifies character and leadership on and off the field. Davis is also the reigning Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. I’m sure those awards would look nice beside a Super Bowl trophy.

North Carolina’s new logo is the worst of 2015. 

That’s according to a design blog that ranks these sorts of things. The blog, Brand New, said the logo — mostly a blue and green “NC” with a tree in the middle — is “one of the worst compositions of the decade so far.” Ouch. The branding campaign and logo — which you can see here in all its glory — came after a year of planning and out of a $1.5 million budget.

When our historical powers combine … 

The Charlotte Museum of History and Historic Charlotte are coming together to form a “unified front” to preserve historic buildings and promote local history. This comes at a time when we’re seeing development in historic neighborhoods replace old buildings with new ones. Maybe this will help save some of those older buildings and homes.

Photo: T. Ortega Gaines/Charlotte Observer

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