S.C. no longer in running for Stone Brewing's Eastern facility

The interior of Stone Brewing Co.'s California brewery. The nation's 10th-largest craft brewer is no longer eyeing South Carolina for its major expansion on the East Coast.

Stone Brewing Co. no longer is considering South Carolina for the site of its first brewery on the East Coast.

The Escondido, Calif.-based brewery broke the news to S.C. officials last week that it was looking elsewhere to build its $31 million mega-brewery, which includes a production facility, restaurants and other tourist-oriented amenities.

"We considered a number of great locations in South Carolina, but after careful review and evaluation, we narrowed the candidates to locations that we feel better fit our needs and requirements," said company spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo. "Stone Brewing Co. would like to express our gratitude for the significant efforts put forth (during) our search. We truly appreciate the time and resources that went towards our project."

LoPiccolo would not say which cities are still in the running for the new brewery.

Stone's decision comes a few months after S.C. lawmakers passed a measure at the end of the legislative session that lifted most, if not all, of the complex restrictions that were placed on breweries in the state. It was intended to improve South Carolina's chances of landing the deal with Stone.

Nicknamed the Stone Bill, the new law means that as long as breweries offer food, or at least get a permit from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to serve food, they can sell an unlimited amount of their beer on-site.

Before it passed, breweries could sell no more than 48 ounces of beer, or three pints, to each patron per visit in a 24-hour time frame.

While the new law apparently failed to draw Stone's interest, it may have brightened the future for the state's craft beer industry. There are eight craft breweries based in Charleston, and 12 others are sprinkled across the state.

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"South Carolina is now well-positioned to compete for these kinds of projects in the future," said Allison Skipper, spokeswoman for the state Department of Commerce. "Also, our existing brewing businesses now have additional options to expand and create more jobs and impact in our state."

Greenville and Charleston were among several South Carolina communities that submitted bids to be the host city for the brewery. It's unclear whether any tax incentives were offered to the company.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.