SB234 introduced to protect consumer privacy

As you may recall, last fall the ABC proposed a regulation requiring breweries collect detailed personal information on each consumer purchasing beer to go. We at Free the Hops voiced our concerns, and many of you called and emailed the ABC Board over this invasive proposal. The ABC ultimately dropped the proposal but indicated that the new Growler Law still required this information.

Senator Bill Holzclaw presented himself at the ABC’s hearing last fall to make the case against enforcing those regulations. Senator Holzclaw stated that this requirement was never part of the original intent of the Growler Law, and he would work to amend this language in the next legislative session.

True to his word, Senator Holtzclaw introduced Senate Bill 234 this week. SB234 amends the law to clarify that the internal transfer from the manufacturer (brewery) to the taproom is a “sale” for reporting purposes. This preserves all long-held reporting requirements for alcohol transactions, but it would commute the reporting requirement from a “brewery to public consumer” to a “brewery to taproom” sales capture.

Free the Hops, as the grassroots, non-profit consumer advocacy organization, asks for your support on this effort to clarify the law to protect consumer privacy. We will be tracking this bill through the legislative process in the coming weeks. If our voices need to be heard, we will be the first to request a call to action.

We thank Senator Holtzclaw for once again championing legislation that support both this burgeoning industry and the consumers who will make it flourish in Alabama.

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More on the ABC Board Ruling

So this past Wednesday the ABC Board met to finally vote on the new proposed rule change that would require the consumer to give up some personal information and be kept for either auditing or review by the ABC Board.  Firstly Free the Hops would like to personally thanks each and every one of you who took time out of your day to contact the ABC and comment on the proposed rule change.  This goes to show that the people can still effect change in their government by speaking up and speaking out.

Saying all of that the ABC ultimately decided to drop the requirement, but stated that it’s still the law.  So what does this mean for the consumer and for the brewery?  Well, confusing to say the least.  What we hope happens is that it will be status quo and will not be enforced until the law they are sighting can be amended to remove some ambiguous language that the ABC Board deems to be the law.  The law in question is a 36 year old amendment to the Alabama State Constitution from 1980.  The law is Alabama Code Title 28. Intoxicating Liquor, Malt Beverages, and Wine specifically title 28-3A-6 subparagraph E which states

(e)?Every manufacturer shall keep at its principal place of business within the state, daily permanent records which shall show the quantities of raw materials received and used in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages, and the quantities of alcoholic beverages manufactured and stored, the sale of alcoholic beverages, the quantities of alcoholic beverages stored for hire or transported for hire by or for the licensee and the names and addresses of the purchasers or other recipients thereof. – See more at:

Now again this law is from 1980 and in no way was meant to represent collecting data from the consumer.  I will have to look back in my history book but I am pretty sure that there was not a brewery in the state during this time (please correct me if I am wrong).  So again the ABC Board has ruled to drop the personal information issue, but has stated that it’s in the law to require it.  This means that a new bill will need to be proposed in the next legislative session to amend the law said above.

Mike Cason from has reported on Wednesday that Senator Holtzclaw was in attendance and said that he would attempt to try and take up the change needed in the 2017 legislative session.  Free the Hops will also do our part in helping push for this.  Again in closing we want to thank each and every one of you again who wrote the ABC board during the last 45 days, thank you very much!

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ABC Board Update

Mike Cason’s article on lays out the ABC Board’s response to the multitude (hundreds? thousands?) of citizens who responded to the ABC Board’s proposed rule that would obligate our local breweries, brewpubs, wineries, and distilleries to keep record of purchasers’ information including name, address, telephone number, and date of birth.  As a reminder, this would be for every sales transaction, even for a single bottle of beer.  The ABC Board has responded to your calls and emails, but in doing so, have failed to address any of the expressed concerns.

The expectation for the “new-and-improved” proposed rule (expectation, as it has not been officially proposed yet) would still obligate breweries, brewpubs, wineries and distilleries to record the names and addresses of customers who buy anything for off-premises consumption.  Just as before, one has to wonder what is the purpose of doing this?  As reported in Mr. Cason’s article,

“ABC officials said the requirement to record the names of buyers is to ensure that required taxes are paid in the same way as when the manufacturers, the breweries, sell to wholesalers, rather than directly to a consumer. ABC Board spokesman Dean Argo said the staff would recommend changing the proposed rule to remove the requirement that the breweries, wineries and distilleries report the personal information of buyers to the ABC Board. Instead, the proposed regulation will say the sellers will retain the names and addresses for their records, which are subject to ABC audits, Argo said.”

Is it just me, or does this seem any different than the first proposal?  What purpose would an audit serve, if it did not also include the possibility of empowering the ABC to verify your purchase?  How is collecting this information necessary to ensure appropriate tax levies?  If that is necessary, why am I able to purchase liquor at the ABC store, or beer in the grocery store, and no one asks me my name or where I live (let alone write this information down)?

On the one hand, we appreciate that the ABC is required to enforce the law.  That really is their sole job.  How they do that, however, is up to interpretation and just as before, this proposed rule seems like a clear overreaching invasion of privacy.

We will continue to fight for the rights of the consumer in the great State of Alabama, and will continue to fight this change.  We ask everyone to continue to write to the ABC to voice your displeasure with their ruling.  You can do this two ways, email and snail mail.  Their email address is and their mailing address is:

Alabama ABC Board
2715 Gunter Park Drive West
Montgomery, Alabama 36109

We hope that with your help, we can still get this rule stopped.

Edit: We also want to add that the new proposed ruling hasn’t been voted on yet by the ABC Board, they met earlier this week to discuss it and the article was a report on that meeting.

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Scary New Rule Proposed by ABC on Growler Sales

The Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board is proposing a change to how they regulate beer sales at local breweries and brewpubs that would significantly infringe on the privacy of craft beer consumers. The proposed rule in question pertains to Alabama Administrative Code 20-X-9-.04, (1) (b) (3). It would mandate that all breweries and brewpubs who sell beer for off premise consumption (i.e., growlers, bottled or canned beer) keep record of the purchaser’s information including name, address, telephone number, date of birth, and drivers license number for every sales transaction. Even more concerning is that the ABC Board states that this information will be subject to their verification.

The implications of this should be highly concerning, not only to craft beer consumers, but to all people throughout the state. As nonsensical as it might seem, this rule would essentially empower the ABC Board to come to an individual’s house to confirm his or her purchase of a six pack of beer. One can’t help but ask, why? The members of Free the Hops fully oppose this proposed rule. It represents an unprecedented, unnecessary, and overreaching invasion of privacy. It is something that unfairly targets beer consumers, but also, frankly, has frightening implications for everyone.

There is a way to help stop this new proposal, you can mail a letter or send an email to the ABC Board Administrative Procedures Secretary.  The email is with the mailing address of

Alabama ABC Board
2715 Gunter Park Drive West
Montgomery, Alabama 36109

Any comment on the proposal must be made between now and September 7th 2016. We encourage our membership, and the public to reach out to the ABC Administrative Board and voice their opinion that under no means shall your personal information be needed to purchase a Growler, Bottle or 6 Pack from a local Brewery, other than normal means of checking for your date of birth.

Free the Hops is an all-volunteer, grassroots organization whose mission is to help bring the highest quality beers in the world to Alabama. Founded in 2004 by Alabama consumers with no ties to the alcohol industry, Free the Hops was successful in passing the Gourmet Beer Bill in 2009, the Brewery Modernization Act in 2011, and the Gourmet Bottle Bill in 2013.

edit: Looking at early drafts of the rule change it included taking down the drivers license number of everyone who purchased beer to go from Breweries. Looks like that language has been removed, so we have amended our statement.

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Crooked Stave Beer Dinner at The J. Clyde

Thanks to everyone who made this past weekend’s 10th Annual Magic City Brewfest another raging success.  We wanted to let you know about an upcoming beer dinner on Friday at The J. Clyde.  The beer dinner will be focused on the debut of Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project.  You got first shot at the beers from this amazing brewery last weekend, now you can sit down and enjoy them paired with food from The J. Clyde.  Owners Chad and Yatta Yakobson will be in attendance all night.

If you haven’t had the chance to check them out yet Crooked Stave is one of the hottest breweries in America today.  Based out of Denver Colorado, this is their 1st entry into Alabama and it will be a good one.  Check out the lineup below.  You can choose to do individual courses or do all 4, choice is up to you.

Course 1: Chicken Pickle Satay with Sirachi Aioli $7 – paired with Hop Savant

Course 2: Gazpacho with Shrimp and Lemon Creme Fraiche $7 – paired with Surette

Course 3: Steak and Bacon Kebabs with Garlic Mash and Green Bean Medley $27.50 – paired with Mama Bear’s Cherry Pie

Course 4: Chocolate Torte with Ganache and Sliced Strawberries $7 – paired with Raspberry Origin

Draught List:

Bottle List:
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Growler bill passes both House and Senate

When I saw the headline yesterday from Dan Roberts with the Alabama Brewers Guild saying that SB211 “Growler” bill had passed the state’s Senate, I said to myself, “I never thought I would see this day a few years back”.  The Senate passed the bill 23 to 4 yesterday afternoon with the House passing HB176 68 to 17 a few weeks back.  This is a crazy time in which we have finally come into some sort of modern timezone for beer laws in this state.  With the Governors signature this bill could come into affect on June 1st.  On June 1st you will be able to purchase up to 288 oz per day, per person from each of our states breweries taproom.  This will include growlers and package to take home.  The bill also removes the restriction of brewpub restrictions that require breweries to be located in historic buildings or economically distressed areas and counties that were wet prior to federal Prohibition.

This time around the debate was of little fanfare, no filibusters, no “what’s wrong with the beer we got?” lines, no boycotts, just a simple announcement and vote.  This was due to the fact that both bills  had a large number of co-sponsors and complete bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate.  It comes after the Alcohol Beverage Study Commission was formed in 2015 to help build recommendations on what alcohol laws needed to be changed.

For more thoughts about the subject I would like to point everyone to Free the Hops founder Danner Kline’s article.  He has some great thoughts and memories looking back over the years from where he started and what has transpired since 2007.

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10th Annual Magic City Brewfest

We would like to announce that the 10th Annual Magic City Brewfest will be held on June 3rd and 4th at Sloss Furnaces, more details are forthcoming. For the most up to date information please check out our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

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Fall FestivALE Beer List

The beer list is almost 100% finalized for the event.  There will be a few more additions, but this is a good list to follow for Sunday. If you don’t yet have tickets you can still get them at the discounted rate of $29 at  See everyone Sunday at 2pm!

Brewery Beer 1 Beer 2 Beer 3 Beer 4
5Pts Brewing The Devil’s Elxir Dunkelweizen RIP Flanders Firkin Valor
Rocket Republic Grapefruit Mach One Terrestiale Dark Matter Steam Pumpkin
Ghost Train Imperial Pilsner dry hopped Imperial Pilsner w/Pomegranate Dark Ride Terminal Station
Cahaba *Diamante Coffee Milk Stout Third Anniversary Irish Stout White IPA
Fairhope Pumpkin up the Jam Judge Roy Bean Football Saison Amber
Back Forty Cuban Coffee Sweet Potato Casserole Brown Persimmon Pilsner Truck Stop Honey
Good People Gordo Session #4 Amber One Snakehandler
Avondale Battlefield IPA No Joka Mocha BA Pumpkin Saison
Yellowhammer 5th Anniversary Rebellion Lost Highway Bride of Frankenhammer
Blue Pants Weedys IPA Fall Festbier IPL *COP w/ Vannilla
Straight to Ale BA Pumkin BA Oktoberfest Dunkel Lily Flagg
Druid City Sour Ale Double Downtown Porter
Cheaha Brewing

*Collaboration beer with Free the Hops and Cahaba. Coffee Milk Stout with Guatemala El Diamante coffee.

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Announcing the 5th Annual Fall FestivAle

It’s official! The 2015 Cobb Lane Fall FestivAle will be Sunday, November 22nd from 2-5PM.

Presented by Free the HopsThe J. Clyde and B-Metro: The Magazine of Metro Birmingham Living, join us on Birmingham’s historic Cobb Lane in Five Points South Bham. You’ll be able to try seasonal and unique beers from brewers around the state, shop local vendors and enjoy a bite to eat from The J. Clyde.
Tickets go on sale October 12th!

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SB452 Brewery Jobs Bill

On Wednesday (5/13), the Brewery Job Bill – SB452 – proposed by the Alabama Brewers Guild passed unanimously out of the State Committee.  Next stop is passing the full Senate.  Let’s help the Alabama Brewers Guild get growler sales from the breweries!  Go to, enter your address to find your state senator, and tell him or her that you want them to support brewery jobs.

Alabama is the only state that prohibits to-go sales from the brewery or brewpub. SB452 would remove this restriction, allow a bare minimum of growler sales from the brewery, and allow Alabama breweries to compete fairly with the rest of the country. This will lead to new jobs, increased tourism, and new investment in Alabama.

While the local brewing industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, Alabama is still ranked 50th in economic impact per capita from craft beer. If Alabama were to achieve 2012 national averages, it would add roughly $284 million to state GDP and create nearly 2,500 full-time jobs (PDF). SB452 will not create 2,500 jobs by itself, but removing this unfair restriction on the local brewing industry is a necessary first step.

Help us remove Alabama’s unfair restriction on growler sales from the brewery or brewpub and help us grow craft beer in Alabama!

Telephone calls have a big impact on politicians. If you can, please call your senator’s office on Monday and leave a brief message of support for this important job creation bill in addition to any other
messages you send.

Call your senator, then send an email as followup, asking him/her to vote YES for SB452.

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