As most of you are no doubt aware, Governor Riley signed the Gourmet Beer Bill into law on Friday. While I’d like to think that my first post as Birmingham’s Political Issues Examiner this past Thursday had something to do with it, the truth is that this victory is the result of the efforts of thousands of folks working for years to have freedom of beverage choice here in Alabama. Many of those folks, including myself, were celebrating this victory at the J. Clyde on Friday.
The real drivers of this change were the leaders, members and fellow travellers of Free the Hops who have proven that a committed grassroots movement can effect change in Alabama. Going from an idea to such a force in less than five years is nothing short of incredible, especially considering the political climate in this state and the fact that many of our politicians use their pharisaical opposition to all alcoholic beverages as a campaign plank. I, for one, will relish my first taste of Alabama-bought high-gravity beer as the sweet taste of freedom commingled with victory.
Of course every silver lining has a touch of grey, so we can’t forget that the battle for free brews is not over in here in the heart of dixie. As Danner Kline reminds us:
While the post below is titled “The Hops Are Free,” that’s not entirely correct. Raising the ABV limit was the primary reason I started FTH, and it was always our highest priority, but there are other antiquated, asinine laws oppressing the craft beer industry in this state. We’ll be having lots of discussions in the coming days about what to do next year, but rest assured we will continue to fight for sane beer regulation in Alabama, and there is much work left to be done. And we still need your help. So stay tuned — we’ve proven a grassroots effort can change Alabama law for the better. Let’s keep up the good work.
The restrictions on container size, homebrewing and brewpubs remain in place and will likely prove as difficult, if not moreso, to remove. I have it on good authority that the container size restriction (no bottles above 16 ounces) will likely be the next target for Free the Hops. We need to keep pushing for more freedom and fewer needless and arbitrary laws that make criminals out of folks who aren’t doing anything wrong.