The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


February 9, 2006


More Blue Law Stupidity

Between trying to outlaw kegs and this nonsense, I’m glad I don’t live in Alabama…

Free The Hops | Alabamians For Specialty Beer

Help us Free The Hops!

Alabama is one of only four states in the country that limits alcohol by volume (ABV) for beer to only 6%, and the only state that limits beer containers to a size of no more than 1 pint (16 American ounces).

As statewide Prohibition came to end in Alabama, the only politically viable avenue open to those who wanted the sale of alcohol to once again be legal in the state was to place heavy restrictions on that sale. What, when, where, and how alcohol could be sold were all strictly controlled by the legislation which legalized alcohol sales in Alabama—four years after National Prohibition was repealed.

The ABV Limit

The 6% ABV limit excludes approximately 1/3 of the world’s beer styles, some of them the finest, highest quality beverages on earth. Entire styles of specialty beers fall above this limitation, such as barleywine, a strong ale with a typical ABV between 8-13%. Barleywines are elegant and expensive, sometimes cellared and aged for years like a fine Cabernet. Another elite group of beers, those brewed by Trappist Monks in Belgium (considered by many to be the greatest beer in the world) is comprised almost entirely of beers above 6% ABV. These “Dubbels” and “Trippels” are currently illegal in Alabama.

The Container Limit

Though it is impossible to quantify exactly how many other beers are excluded by the 1 pint limit, it is safe to say that many more fine beers are unavailable to Alabamians due to this additional restriction. For example, Rogue Ales—one of the most notable craft breweries in the United States—sells most of their beer in 22 ounce bottles. Only 5 of their 25 core beers fall within Alabama’s ABV and container size restrictions. Furthermore, many beers from Europe (such as those of Young’s Brewery in England) are only exported in 500 mL or 750 mL bottles—too big for Alabama.

Of the Top 100 beers at BeerAdvocate.com, 98 aren’t found anywhere in this state.

Until mid-2004, Georgia also had this law. Had I moved here while that was in effect, I very well may have had to move back to CA. When does it finally occur to people that perhaps it’s not the state government’s job to decide things such as this?

There’s a well-known liquor/beverage store here in Atlanta called Green’s, renowned for their specialty beer selection. Apparently they get a lot of business from AL and SC residents (S. Carolina being one of the other states with this restriction), who are in the area, buying beers unavailable in their home state. As mentioned above, an enormous selection of high-quality brews are excluded by these two restrictions. In fact, many of my personal favorites (such as Arrogant Bastard Ale and many Belgian Tripels) would not be available.

Why? As the writer of this site points out here, it’s not like the “it’s for the children” argument even holds water. Underage drinkers are not looking for a 750 ml bottle of Grand Cru at 10% alcohol to catch their buzz, they’re looking for a case of Keystone Light as cheap as they can get it.

This law is simply unnecessary meddling in individual affairs. It serves no real “public safety” purpose. It’s not even a moral issue, as Alabama allows the sale of liquor that is much, much more potent than these specialty beers. When I start railing against the stupidity of restricting alcohol purchases on Sunday here in Georgia, I only have to look a little westward to see how bad it truly could be.


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Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 11:36 am || Permalink || Comments (9) || Trackback URL || Categories: Uncategorized

9 Comments

  1. You seriously can’t buy Chimay or McEwan’s Scotch Ale in Alabama?!

    And I thought Utah was crazy for restricting the sale of beverages above 3.2% ABV to state-owned liquor stores.

    Comment by Perry Eidelbus — February 9, 2006 @ 3:01 pm
  2. Yeah, I wouldn’t care if you had to get these brews from the local ABC stores, but the fact that they’re downright illegal is pretty pathetic.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — February 9, 2006 @ 5:11 pm
  3. But on the other hand, if it is not the state’s job to regulate extra packaging to products then who should? If people could just pick what size container their beer came in there would be public frivolity! I wish you liberals would think about the children.

    I should not poke fun though. In my province, bars and restaurants are charged higher prices than consumers by the state liquor monopoly. Higher prices. For buying in bulk. Which in every other industry on the planet reduces expenses to the supplier. Plus they are serving in a legally regulated and supervised environment and paying taxes and providing jobs. This apparently is something to be avoided by punitive pricing.

    Comment by Apesnake — February 9, 2006 @ 10:29 pm
  4. After thinking how long it’s been since I had some, I picked up a 750 mL bottle of Chimay Grande Réserve tonight. Great stuff, but I don’t know of anywhere in New York that sells it. Since I was out in Connecticut, I stopped by a store that I know stocks a great variety of foreign beer.

    I also made a special order: a case of San Miguel, which is made in the Philippines (and I believe still supervised by German brewmeisters). Alas, it’s not the dark, but it’s still great beer. My father, an American ex-pat who lived in the Philippines for almost a couple of decades, said San Miguel was the best beer he ever had. He did, however, love Chimay and McEwan’s.

    Comment by Perry Eidelbus — February 10, 2006 @ 1:50 am
  5. I should clarify, he loved them almost as much as San Miguel.

    Comment by Perry Eidelbus — February 10, 2006 @ 1:50 am
  6. Perry,

    Do you ever swing by Beer Advocate (link in right sidebar)? Great place to keep up on beer news…

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — February 10, 2006 @ 9:39 am
  7. I can’t I’ve ever been there, but I will check it out.

    Comment by Perry Eidelbus — February 10, 2006 @ 1:38 pm
  8. I remember when I lived in Savannah and ran into the “no alcohol on Sunday” thing. I was having a Sunday afternoon BBQ and my wife reminded me that a couple of people coming would want alcohol free beer. So, I ran down to Piggly Wiggly’s to grab some O’Douls since it was closer than going to Fort Stewart’s commissary. They couldn’t even sell me O’Douls, with less than 0.5% ABV. So, I went on base and bought it. I wonder how much business stores in Georgia lose on Sundays because of this really silly law.

    Comment by Eric — February 12, 2006 @ 8:36 pm
  9. [...] Beeradvocate.com is the first place where I heard about freethehops.org, the web site devoted to ending Alabama’s prohibition on beers above 6% ABV. And I’d say, to a person, that the members of beeradvocate.com would reject the notion that it is the government’s place to determine what percentage alcohol should be in the beer an individual buys. Of course, they don’t say they’d like to force liquor stores to carry high-alcohol beers. But they want them to have the option, if the purveyor of the establishment so chooses. [...]

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