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Special Interest Doug Robertson Beer Law 101: Tracking Recent Changes in Alabama’s Sudsy Regulations In the past four years, regulation of I was fortunate enough to be there beer in Alabama has changed dramatical- for the start of the story. In 2004, my ly. You may have seen--or enjoyed--the good college friend, Danner Kline, in- results fi as drink menus and tap vited me to dinner to discuss an idea he rst-hand, handles at local eateries and “drinkeries” had. He had just gotten back from Texas have grown increasingly diverse. Th beer and was fl by the selection of beer oored e aisle of your local grocery store has prob- available--none of which were available in ably started bubbling over into the wine Alabama. He had done his research and section. Th fall, the Birmingham Bar discovered that one reason Alabama had a is Association held its October Bar-fest in limited beer selection was its defi of nition the tap room of Avondale Brewing Co. “beer” in the code. while the Bankruptcy section held its BEER, or MALT OR BREWED Charity Auction at Good People Brewing BEVERAGES. Any beer, lager beer, Co. Nationally, craft beer is on the rise, ale, porter, malt or brewed beverage, and the increase in breweries in Alabama or similar fermented malt liquor . refl that trend, due in large part to the . . not in excess of . . . six percent by ects passage of three key pieces of legislation. volume, by whatever name the same may be called. ALA. CODE § 28-3-1(3) In 2009 Governor Riley signed (1997 amendment). HB373, the Gourmet Beer Bill into law, allowing beer to be sold in Alabama with Alabama was not alone. A handful of oth- an alcohol content of greater than 6% er states had limited the alcohol content of beer ABV. In 2011, Governor Bentley signed to less than 6%, including West Virginia, South SB192, the Brewery Modernization Act, Carolina, Mississippi, and Georgia. In 2004, allowing breweries to have their own Georgia passed its law increasing the limit from tap-rooms. Th earlier this year, the 6% to 14% through the eff of Georgians for orts en, Alabama Legislature enacted SB294, the World Class Beer. North Carolina later followed Gourmet Bottle Bill, which allowed sale suit, removing the limit on the alcohol content of of beer in container sizes up to 750 mil- beer in 2005 through the eff of its grassroots orts liliters. organization, Pop the Cap. Pop the Cap was established in 2003, and in 2004 Danner made Th passage of each piece of legisla- contact with the folks from Pop the Cap. Dan- tion came primarily through the grass- ner decided to adopt their strategy for chang- roots eff of the non-profi organiza- t orts ing Alabama’s beer laws. Th strategy was to e tion, Free the Hops. To most Birmingham start simple--with a website--then to raise lawyers, this is old news, particularly for awareness and enough money to hire a lob- those who know the diff between erence byist to assist in navigating the Alabama a lager and a stout. But news does not legislature’s treacherous political waters. always tell the whole story. Th began Free the Hops. 20 Birmingham Bar Association


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