Man, that Jacob Grier is fast! He scooped me on this story, despite living 800 miles away–behold the magic of the internets!
So, yes, the announced boycott is already making gains, in that Pat Lynch, the local Bud distributor told the Anniston Star that he’s not opposed to the lifting of the 6 percent ABV restriction, but opposes lifting such a restriction on a local, county-by-county basis. He doesn’t believe that a crazy-quilt of local regulations is a good idea. I say, free the hops by any (peaceful) means necessary, even if that means campaigning county by county.
The long answer, of course, is a bit more complicated. Clearly, the current regulations favor major-brand beers that fall under the legal ABV and container-size restriction by keeping high-quality, high gravity beers off the shelves and out of the hands of all but the most dedicated consumers. Yes, reversing these restrictions at the county level will adversely affect Pat Lynch’s business, but probably not to the extent he thinks. Even if these restrictions were removed tomorrow, my guess is that the gourmet beer market would still be fairly limited. Yes, enough folks would substitute high quality, gourmet beers for some or all of their current major-brand (bud, coors, miller, etc.) beer consumption to keep several brewpubs in business and justify having more tap options at local taverns, but there are a lot of folks here who are very happy with their brand (e.g., “I’m a coors guy.”) and don’t want to try new beers and don’t really care that beer exists which makes coors and its ilk seem like urine. That’s fine by me. Beer lovers like myself aren’t about imposing our views on others. Please continue drinking whatever it is that you like, only allow us the same option when we go to the pub or store to obtain delicious malted hops. But I digress, Pat Lynch is right that his business will likely suffer a bit if the ridiculous ABV restriction is removed, but this is true regardless of whether that removal occurs at the local or state level. If Mr. Lynch operates several distributorships in different counties and the regulations change all the time, then I can see how regulatory uncertainty might raise his costs. Though, to be fair, I think that alcohol distributors in most states have a pretty cushy deal, which is why we’ve seen opposition to any attempt to reform our prohibition-era laws and why in-state wine sellers screamed so much when the Institute for Justice took their interstate wine-shipping case to the Supreme Court and won!
In short, I’m all for the rights of individuals and companies to engage in peaceful exchange in the free marketplace, but it’s hard for me to find sympathy with anyone who whinges about the possibility of his or her legally-enforced economic protection going away. My reaction:
Daily Dixie has more.
Also, Jacob has just put up an excellent post proving that regulatory ridiculousness regarding adult beverages abounds in Virginia as well.