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distressed area.” Ala. Code § 28-4A-3 (2011 amendment). Most significantly, the amended bill allowed for sale of beer in taprooms by production breweries. A manufacturer licensee actively and continuously engaged in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages on the manufacturer’s licensed premises in the State of Alabama may conduct tastings or samplings on the licensed premises, as regulated by the ABC Board except as to quantity and hours of operation, or as otherwise provided by statute, and for that purpose give away or sell alcoholic beverages manufactured there for consumption on only one premises where manufactured. AlA. Code § 28-3A-6(h)(1) (2011 amendment). The Gourmet Bottle Bill After a failed attempt at passage in 2011, the Gourmet Bottle Bill met success in 2012 with less drama or opposition than the previous two beer bills. The targeted regulation was Ala. Code § 28-3A-23, which said: All beer, except draft or keg beer, sold by retailers must be sold or dispensed in bottles, cans, or other containers not to exceed one pint or 16 ounces. (1980 enactment). Despite the limits on most counties, 13 counties passed local legislation allow- ing for sale of beer in excess of 16 ounces. See e.g., Ala. Code § Section 45-19-20.01 (Coosa County local law allowing beer to be sold in containers up to 32 ounces in size). In an effort to draw attention to the anomaly, Birmingham’s Good People Brew- ing Co. brewed a number of specialty one-off “County Line Series” beers available for purchase in Coosa County only. The limited sales events generated significant buzz. The Alabama Brewer’s Guild endorsed raising the container size limit, stating that the larger bottle format provided a better presentation for the brewers’ products, were more economical, allowed for additional styles of beer to be sold in the state, and would bring more tax revenue to Alabama. On May 16, 2012, Governor Bentley signed SB294, Ala. Code § 28-3A-23, which replaced the phrase “one pint or 16 ounces” with the words “25.4 ounces,” effec- beer distribution system. Since the 1933 repeal tively allowing the 750 ml wine- or dinner-bottle sized beers- to be sold along with the of Prohibition, most states, including Alabama, 22 oz. “bombers” popular for specialty or other limited-release beers. have taxed and regulated alcohol by requiring the Future Changes in Regulation production, distribution, and sale of alcohol to be performed by three separate entities. See Ala. Additional changes in regulation of the beer industry may still be coming. Free the Code § 28-3-2 (1975). The result is that brewers Hops has stated that it intends to continue to pursue changes, particularly with regard may not sell their beer to retailers or directly to to the lingering restrictions on brewpubs. It also supports the efforts being made by consumers. another grassroots organization, Right to Brew, as they seek to legalize homebrewing in Alabama. After a boycott by Free the Hops against the wholesalers for opposing the bill, a compromise As an attorney, the beer question I probably get asked was reached in the bill that kept brewpubs a sepa- the most is whether it is legal to brew beer at home. While rate entity from breweries and made minor al- homebrewing was legalized on the federal level in 1978 and lowances in the brewpub regulations. The substi- is legal in 48 states, Alabama is not one of them. Last year tuted SB192 was signed into law on June 9, 2011. the Alabama Homebrewing Legalization Bill, HR266, won The 80-seat requirement was removed, and a pro- the shroud award. If history repeats itself, it could pass next vision was added for brewpubs to be allowed “in a year, continuing the trend of nearly-yearly modifications to registered historic district, or in any economically Alabama’s unique regulatory landscape for beer. G Contributor Doug Robertson Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Winter 2012 23


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