Under the Dome

NC rules commission approves in-stand beer sales, retailer growler fills

Look for a beer man in the aisles at some professional sporting events soon. And expect to find retailers offering growler fills.

The N.C. Rules Review Commission approved temporary rules Thursday to allow in-stand beer sales starting Oct. 25. The move is possible after state lawmakers loosened the rules to allow beer vendors in the stands at professional sporting events with a seating capacity of 3,000 or more. Under previous law, only stadiums with a capacity of 60,000 could have roaming beer sellers, meaning it only applied to the Carolina Panthers.

Tim Kent, the executive director of the N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers, expects the Charlotte Bobcats basketball team and Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey team to possibly add in-stand beer sales, but not the Carolina Hurricanes because it’s more difficult to avoid a vendor blocking a view of the game. Minor league baseball teams also are likely to embrace the new rules when the 2015 season starts.

Under the rules from the N.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, roaming beer vendors cannot carry logo-branded beer trays or signs, only ones with product names in prices in the same font size and type. It also puts into formal rule the time at which in-stand sales must cease; right now, the time is set by the stadium owners.

In-stand sales must end at the beginning of the 8th inning of a baseball game, the 4th quarter of a basketball or football game, the 60th minute of a soccer game, the 3rd period of a hockey game, the last quarter of an auto race or the final hour of any other professional sporting event. If concesssion stand beer sales end earlier than those times, in-stand sales will also conclude, the rules say.

And don’t expect to hear the familiar “beer here” call from the aisles. The new law prohibits the traditional bellow.

In the case of growlers, the ABC rules allow retailers to fill empty growlers no larger than two liters for off-premises consumption. Previously, only breweries could fill growlers on site but House bill 829 expanded the law to permit retailers such as Total Wine, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter and craft beer shops to do the same. The growlers are particularly popular in the thriving craft beer market in North Carolina.

The rules say retailers must ensure the growler is clean and require a label or tag to include certain information about the beer and brewer, such as alcohol content for beers more than 6 percent.

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