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All Things Beer-y: How great is it to be in NC now?

Answer: It’s pretty great.

I thought I’d start this series with a brief post on what an amazing place North Carolina is for craft beer right now. I’ve already talked about some recent announcements about new (larger) breweries being built in NC (see post: a little diversion). But wait! There’s more: Oskar Blues has just announced they’ll also be building a brewery in North Carolina.r

Quick aside: Oskar Blues is one of my favorite canning breweries. Absolutely some of the best beer out there. Mama’s Little Yella Pills, Old Chub, Ten Fidy – all classics! My other favorite canning brewery is 21st Amendment (563 2nd Street…) headed by the esteemed Shaun O’Sullivan (“That’s right, cans.”). Awesome beer and just started distributing in NC.

Actually, that’s a pretty good segue. Distribution of beer in NC has gone off the charts in the last few years. 21A is now distributing here, Gordon Biersch, and a ton of others. New announcements come out every few days, or so it seems. While breweries are pulling out of some areas due to production or distribution issues, we’re seeing very little of the market consolidation movement. Whether through distribution, new breweries, or just the culture, indications are that NC is one of (if not the) fastest growing beer markets in the US. Check out the North Carolina Brewers Guild for more information.

A great example is an event I’m headed to this weekend. Rockfish Grill in Durham NC is hosting Casks for a Cure. Casks for a Cure proceeds go to benefit Pints for Prostates (a great cause, check it out – bu that’s not the point). The point here is that the entire event is casks (of Real Ale) all from breweries that *have not opened yet*. These are all breweries IN PLANNING IN NORTH CAROLINA. How cool is that? It gets better… they all donated the beer and developed a collaboration beer that will also be served. This is just good stuff.

I’ve talked about breweries expanding. I’ve talked about new breweries. I’ve talked about distribution. One last piece, and the last paragraph is a hint. The beer culture scene is absolutely phenomenal. I live in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area (i.e. Research Triangle or “the Triangle” around here). There are multiple Meetup groups focusing on beer and the biggest/best (Tri-beer) has events nearly everyday – just within a 20 mile radius! When the group got started I thought I’d commit to it, but I quickly discovered my liver couldn’t hang with the young whipper-snappers and I had to back down to only an event or two a week. And that’s only the Meetup side. There’s also facebook events, tweet-ups, other event calendars, etc. Even the local lawyer association has gotten into it, holding socials at local brewpubs (like Natty Greene’s). Of course, it’s a little more than ironic that the lawyers’ group is the Bar Association, but – hey – we’ll take the marketing where we can get it, right?

Anyway, I wanted to start my series of All Things Beer-y with something simple and something I’m passionate about. If you’re with me on touting NC Beer, let me here about it. Comment below.

Why don’t small breweries get a lawyer?

April 20, 2012 2 comments

I just responded to an email about breweries and lawyers. Trying to develop a niche practice in serving the craft beer industry is tough and I thought about why that is. I believe craft beer (whether brewing, distributing, or serving) people often don’t consult an attorney because either

  1. “I can handle all this stuff myself. If I ever need to trademark something, then I’ll get a lawyer.” OR
  2. “All lawyers do is make things more complicated and cost money. Why should I pay for them to get in my way.” OR
  3. “I think I need some help here, but I can’t afford one, so I guess I’ll go it alone anyway.”

I’ve been working with the NC Brewers Guild to try and educate brewers and the support industries (who are also largely small or Mom & Pop shops) about how attorneys can actually make things easier and protect you from future issues.

I also spend a good deal of time counseling people on the concept that an attorney – a good attorney - is one that will work with you on your business. Someone that’s interested in seeing your business grow and helping to manage your risks before they become problems. I can only speak for myself, but I want to help you make things less complicated. Make things easier now *and* in the future. I really feel that’s a critical role for a lawyer.

Thinking that you “can handle” all the aspects of your business by yourself is just silly. You may know more about your body than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that you should perform your own gall bladder surgery. The same applies with brewing equipment, accounting, and legal issues. If you don’t have special training or expertise in the area, get some help.

Also, thinking that you can’t afford an attorney is also not right. If you’re concerned about that, talk about it with your attorney. More than likely, they’ll work with you to come up with a plan that fits your needs and budget. No one wants to see you or your company struggle because of a legal issue or not get help when you need it.

What have been your experiences with this? If you’re a brewer/brewery/bar why don’t you get a lawyer involved?

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