Good news on the legislative front, the Alabama House has passed HB 196, which if passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Riley will allow delicious beers of up to 13.9 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) to be sold here in the Heart of Dixie! If all goes according to plan, the law could change very soon, which is good news for gourmet and craft beer aficionados who suffer currently under the existing 6 percent limit left over from Prohibition.
Though I didn’t hear nearly as much handwringing and outright lies about the bill this go-round, Loretta Nall has a delightful account of the floor debate here. (Warning: teh cussin) And Free the Hops suggests that you thank the sponsor Representative Jackson and the other representatives who kept cool heads in the face of bozos like Representatives Laird and Cunningham whose “eloquent” floor speeches helped defeat the bill last year. A version of this bill died in the state legislature last year, partly due to major brand distributors, like Jefferson County’s Pat Lynch, and the efforts of teetotalers and other nannies. Evidently the bootlegging faction (beer distributors like Lynch) in that Baptists and Bootleggers coalition held more sway because as soon as Lynch and Free the Hops reached an agreement (dropping the limit from 14.9 percent to 13.9 percent), most opposition to the bill disappeared.
Why the drop you ask (and so did I)? Though FtH said the compromise was necessary due to “legitimate business interests” awhile back (and hey it seems reasonable, especially if it works!), I was still curious. Well, my friend Shaun, the super-sleuth that he is (he tipped me off on the bill passing yesterday and often digs up interesting tidbits), discovered that not only does Alabama have ridiculous restrictions on the alcohol limit and container size of beer, the location of brewpubs and homebrewing in general, it also has, according to an FtH commenter: “the highest beer tax in the continental US taxed on 12 oz increments. 14.9 [percent] would put you in the park with wine, which is even higher.” I have not yet verified that, but it would not surprise me. So, I guess the concern is that beer above 13.9 will be taxed like wine? I will look into it, but feel free to drop some knowledge on me in the comments section.
More to come. Keep calling your state senators and encourage them to pass SB116. Despite victory in the house, this battle is far from over.