Senate Bill 439 and House Bill 581

The above bills have been proposed by the Alabama Legislature.  The bills will allow breweries to sell beer directly to consumers off-premise and to operate a restaurant but only for breweries above 25,000 barrels in annual production.  Currently there are not any Alabama breweries above that threshold so this bill does not help Alabama breweries.  It will help to attract larger out of state breweries to Alabama which is a good thing but a bill that does not help Alabama breweries is not something that Free the Hops can support.

The bills in their current forms are not supported by Free the Hops or the Alabama Brewers Guild.  The bills need to be amended to apply to all craft breweries as defined by the Brewers Association.  A craft brewery is defined as producing 6 million barrels of beer a year or less.

Here is the Alabama Brewers Guild official statement on SB439 and HB581.

Please contact your House Representative and your State Senator and let them know you oppose these bills in their current form because they do not help local Alabama businesses that are currently here, only out of state ones that may be interested in opening a second brewery location such as Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium have done in North Carolina.  We want the bills to be amended to include all craft breweries by the Brewers Assocation definition.

Here is the link for legislature contact information… click here.

We welcome an environment in Alabama that would allow breweries to look at our state for expansion but not at the expense of current local business.

Cheers,

Gabe

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Magic City Brewfest Named in Best of Birmingham 2013!

Big news from Birmingham Magazine yesterday as they released their Best of Birmingham awards. Readers of the magazine vote on the categories. Here is how they tally the votes along with how many people voted…

During the month of June, Birmingham magazine readers cast more than 16,000 votes for their favorite things in 99 categories. These are the top three vote getters in each category, with ties noted where appropriate.

Magic City Brewfest was named as the best Food/Drink Festival in Birmingham beating out other worthy festivals, Break ‘n Bread and the Greek Food Festival. This is MCBF’s first win in the category after last year’s top three finish.

While winning that category is great Magic City Brewfest was a finalist for the big prize, Best Annual Event, finishing in the top three along with the Honda Indy Grand Prix and the SEC Baseball Tournament is something to be proud of.

Check out the complete list of finalists and winners here and I’m sure you’ll see some of Free the Hops’ very best friends on this list too.

Thanks to everyone who voted and let’s finish #1 in both categories next year!

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Magic City Brewfest Recap

Thank you to everyone who came out this past weekend to MCBF! It was
another great time with great beer, food and music. I hope everyone
had as much fun as we did.

We would love to hear some feedback from you about how we did and how
we can make MCBF better next year. If you fill out this form then you
will get a $5 coupon off of your Free the Hops Etsy order for the
month of June. There are a few MCBF festival t-shirts leftover so if
you didn’t get one this is a great opportunity to get one. Cheers!

-Gabe

SURVEY LINK

ETSY STORE

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Homebrewing Bill Signed by Governor Robert Bentley

On May 9th Governor Bentley signed HB9 (the homebrewing bill) into law effective immediately. It allows for up to 15 gallons to be brewed at home a quarter or 60 gallons a year. Alabama became the 49th state where homebrewing is legal. Thanks to Right to Brew and everyone who contacted their legislators and Governor Bentley. Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew in Alabama!

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Homebrewing (HB9) Bill Passes Senate

Email from Right to Brew…

After a drama-filled day for us listening to the Senate, and after all hope seemed long lost, they brought up HB9 unexpectedly, out of the blue, and passed it 18 – 7 – 1 tonight, without a single word of debate. The Alabama Homebrew Bill has passed the Legislature!!!!

It goes to Governor Bentley now. Although he has indicated that he supports the bill, we need to make sure he knows thousands of Alabamians want him to sign it. This is the one, last step needed before Homebrewing is legal in Alabama, and in all 50 states! So, please go to http://governor.alabama.gov/contact/contact_form.aspx, and fill out the form with your information. Choose “Legislative Session 2013″ from the “Email Concerning which Issue” choices. And in the “Comments”, in your own words, politely ask the governor to sign HB9, the Homebrew Bill. Try to get as many people as you can to do this! We know our prohibitionists opposition will be writing him, and we must vastly overwhelm their numbers!!!

Major thanks go to Senator Bill Holtzclaw for seeing this through, and to Representative Mac McCutcheon for many years of work. None of this would have been possible without our bills’ sponsors. And especially, none of this would have happened without you, the grassroots organization who has brought Alabama to the verge of ending the Prohibition of Homebrew! Thank you, all!

Right To Brew

http://www.alahomebrewing.org

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Homebrewing Bill Update

From Right to Brew…

The Alabama Homebrew Bill, HB9, was reported favorably by the Senate Job Creation and Economic Development Committee yesterday afternoon. The next step is for the whole Senate to vote on it. If HB9 gets approved by the Senate, then it goes to the governor to sign into law!

But first, it must be chosen out of the large stack of available bills to be placed on the Senate’s agenda for a vote. The Senate Rules Committee defines each day’s agenda on what is called a Special Order Calendar. In fact, there will be only eight more Legislative Days left in the session for HB9 to be placed on a Special Order Calendar. Those days will span about the next month’s time, but this means we have only 8 more opportunities to earn our Right To Brew….

So, what can you do to help? Contact some or all members of the Alabama Senate Rules Committee and politely ask them to please allow HB9 to get a vote by placing it on a Special Order Calendar as soon as possible. Last year’s Homebrew Bill died because the Senate never brought it up for a vote. We must not let that happen again this year!

The following senators constitute the Rules Committee. You will be surprised how quickly you can go through the list of phone numbers, one by one, asking the senators’ assistants who answer something like, “Please allow HB9, the Homebrew Bill, to get its chance for a vote by placing it on a Special Order Calendar.” Or, if you prefer, several of the senators have email addresses listed.

Thank you all for helping pass HB9, the Alabama Homebrew Bill!

Senate Rules Committee Members
——————————
Senator Jabo Waggoner, Chair
(334) 242-7892
jabo.waggoner@alsenate.gov

Senator Jimmy Holley, Vice Chair
(334) 242-7845

Senator Scott Beason
(334) 242-7794

Senator Roger Bedford
(334) 242-7862
senbedford@aol.com

Senator Gerald Dial
(334) 242-7874

Senator Priscilla Dunn
(334) 242-7793

Senator Vivian Figures
(334) 242-7871
vivian.figures@alsenate.gov

Senator Rusty Glover
(334) 242-7886

Senator Tammy Irons
(334) 242-7888
tammy@ironslawfirm.com

Senator Arthur Orr
(334) 242-7891

http://www.arthurorr.com/contact

Senator Trip Pittman
(334) 242-7897
trip.pittman@alsenate.gov

Senator Paul Sanford
(334) 242-7867
paul.sanford@alsenate.gov

Senator Clay Scofield
(334) 242-7876
clay.scofield@alsenate.gov

Senator Paul Bussman
(334) 242-7855
p_bussman@bellsouth.net


Right To Brew

http://www.alahomebrewing.org

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Homebrew Bill on Special Order Calendar, Tuesday, April 2nd

Homebrewers, craft beer enthusiasts, and everyone who respects personal freedom, it is time for all of us to email and/or call our Alabama House representatives! HB9, the Alabama Homebrew Bill, is scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives this Tuesday, April 2. Our neo-prohibitionists opposition is out in force, and it is critical that we outnumber their calls against our bill. It is up to all of us to ensure that Alabama is not left alone in Homebrew Prohibition this year. The bill is #3 on the special order calendar so it has a great chance next week.

This page on the website below will help you find your representative’s email address (if he/she has one), and State House phone number, along with some advice for what to say: http://www.alahomebrewing.org/contact-your-representatives. It is quicker and easier than you probably think.

Even if you have already emailed or called your representative earlier this session, now is the time to do it again! Sending a reminder shortly before the vote is always a good idea. Never forget, your voice as a constituent carries weight.

Thank you all for helping pass HB9, the Alabama Homebrew Bill!


Right To Brew

http://www.alahomebrewing.org

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A Statement from the Board of Directors of Free the Hops

Several weeks ago we made an announcement that although Free The Hops will be advocating for new legislation during the 2013 Alabama legislative session, we will not be taking on homebrewing legalization. As we pointed out then, a devoted group of homebrewers called Right To Brew has been working on that issue for several years and are on the cusp of success. We believe their efforts will very likely cross the finish line next year, so we’ll take the lead on another issue and simply lend our support to them wherever possible on the homebrew issue.

Perhaps you don’t homebrew and don’t really see what the big deal is. Well, the importance of homebrew legalization just came into focus for a lot of people when news broke that Birmingham ABC enforcement agents raided Hop City Craft Beer & Wine and confiscated $7,000 of homebrewing equipment.

This issue doesn’t just matter to homebrewers, it matters to small businesses who will lose out on revenue they could otherwise be making off equipment and ingredients for making beer and wine. And it matters to the future of local breweries in our state because most craft brewers start out homebrewing.

Free The Hops supports the efforts of Right To Brew 100% and we hope you will, too. Subscribe to their newsletter. Let your state Representative and Senator know of your support for legalizing homebrewing so Alabama can join the 48 other states where stores can sell brew kettles without fear of armed government agents raiding them. And we in FTH will do whatever we can to assist in the effort.

This ridiculous law needs to change as soon as possible. Let’s make 2013 the year.

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Statement From Free the Hops Regarding Homebrewing Legislation

The Free The Hops Board of Directors, Officers, and active members are currently in the process of discussing the official 2013 agenda for our organization. Yes, even though we’ve accomplished the two core reforms the group was founded to address (and a third we added along the way), Free The Hops is sticking around to continue working to improve Alabama craft beer culture and hopefully reform another beer law or two or more.

We’ve been soliciting feedback from our supporters and it is clear there is widespread enthusiasm among almost everyone involved in FTH at every level for legalizing homebrewing in our state. And if we were the only group in the state interested in changing that law, we’d likely be tackling that next.


However, we are not the only group interested in changing that law. There is a dedicated group of homebrewing enthusiasts that formed an organization called Right to Brew a few years ago (http://www.alahomebrewing.org/), and they have been passionately dedicating countless hours to the effort to legalize homebrewing. We discussed with them the possibility of FTH taking over that campaign but they understandably want to see their own efforts through to completion.


We respect the members of Right to Brew and their decision to continue in their fight. So in our discussions about what’s next for Free the Hops, we’ve taken homebrewing off the table as a possibility.


But make no mistake: FTH fully supports the efforts of Right to Brew in every way, and we will do everything possible to lend a hand during the 2013 session. We will update our supporters on their progress next year, and ask you to make calls to your legislators in support of their bill in addition to ours. Almost every professional craft brewer starts out as a homebrewer, so even if you don’t participate in the hobby, your support of Right to Brew’s efforts will help lead to more start-up breweries in Alabama.  More brewers means more local beer for Alabamians.
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Bomber Day in Alabama!

What a great day August 1, 2012 was for the great state of Alabama.  Craft beer from breweries that have never been offered in the state were readily available at places like Piggly Wiggly, J.Clyde, Whole Foods, and Neighborhood Hops & Vine.  People lined up to have the chance to be the first to buy some of these beers at midnight at stores in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile.

Some of the new breweries that came to Alabama because of the Gourmet Bottle Bill going into effect were Jester King, Stillwater, and Clown Shoes among others.  There was even a beer that Russian River collaborated on with Sierra Nevada called Brux.  Russian River in Alabama!  Truly unbelievable.  Old favorites like Terrapin and Rogue also sent a lot of beer that had never been available in the state before and those guys who have been around for a while should not be forgotten.  They brew so many great beers that are only available in bombers and it’s about time they were offered here as well.

Some of our local favorites like Cahaba Brewing, Blue Pants, and Straight to Ale all had some offerings in 22oz bottles which flew off the shelves as quickly as they were taken out of their boxes.

Many thanks to the members of Free the Hops for their diligence in working to get this bill passed and allowing Alabama to move one step closer to being one of the best craft beer states in the USA!

August 12th at the J.Clyde will be Bomber Day sponsored by the Piggly Wiggly.  For $18 you will get to sample a lot of these great new beers with all proceeds benefiting Free the Hops.  I hope to see you there.  You can buy tickets at the local Birmingham Piggly Wigglys and at the J.Clyde.  This event is close to selling out and you don’t want to miss it.

Cheers!

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