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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  1. Stephen Sewell
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Why on earth should breweries and brewpubs store the name, address, drivers license number, date of birth, and telephone number for every purchase? What possible helpful purpose could that serve? It’s an enormous paperwork challenge. Its an unnecessary attack on privacy. Enforcement would be a waste of state resources. It’s an identity theft hazard for purchasers.

    What useful thing could come from that? It seems like an incredibly heavy handed way to go after under age drinkers of that’s what you’re thinking. Even if that’s your rationale, it wouldn’t apply to grocery stores or standard liquor stores, which is where the underage purchasing is actually happening.

    Please spend your time on useful regulation. This just wastes everyone’s time.

  2. Jim Morris
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    This proposal by the ABC makes one wonder about just WHO at the ABC has been paid off by the big distributors in the 3-tier system. This ruling impacts small breweries by discouraging them and consumers from participating in off-premise sales that bypass the 3-tier system…

  3. Robin Calvert
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    There’s absolutely no reason the ABC board needs to collect such private and personal information from the consumer. The fact that they already exhibit such tight control over sales is more than enough and this asinine request is over the top.

  4. Emily
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    If Free the Hops would write and post a sample letter to be sent to the provided address/email address, I’m sure more people would voice their complaints.

    • Posted August 3, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      The issue with that is that all emails will look canned and the same. They will most likely not count those emails as they all look to be the same. We encourage everyone to reply to them with something personal to and to the point.

  5. Steve Simmons
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    If you email the Administrative procedures Secretary be sure to reference the proposed changes in Alabama Administrative Code 20-X-9-.04, (1) (b) (3). So they know what rule you are commenting on.

  6. Steve Simmons
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    The rule looks like an oversight. It should be targeted at wholesalers. who resell these beers in their shops. Not the average consumer who is simply taking a 6pack home to drink and enjoy. Just dealing with that amount of paperwork would be troublesome on both the ABC side and the Brewery side.

    • Mike L
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I don’t understand why it should be targeted at anyone. Those places are already required to have complete, separate POS systems for on-site consumption and take-away. And with 3-dozen breweries in the state now, that’s still a lot of pointless data to collect for a cash sale. The customer will complain every time. That’s part of what killed Radio Shack and what makes it such a pain to get real decongestant.

    • Rich
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      It’s no oversight. It’s punitive, and intended to make it a hassle for both producers and consumers.

  7. Gary A
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Makes one wonder if the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board has been taken over by a bunch of obummer dumbocrat socialist liberals!!!

    • Aaron
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this is definitely Obama’s fault. smh @ this guy.

  8. Aaron
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Why would this apply only to craft breweries and not to, say publix or liquor sales from the ABC?

    • Rich
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      Going out on a limb here, but the AWBA wants people to buy beer from Publix.

  9. Jen
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Ain’t NOBODY got time for that…. have these people worked in a tap room before???

  10. Tony
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    The last sentence of Jim Morris’comment kind of sums it up. The take-away sales do violate the three-tier system. So, I suppose the purchaser information is to try to keep the brewery from whosaling or the purchaser from buying large quantities for resale. I believe an individual can only purchase a case a day, so I suppose that is the reason for purchaser info and signature…

    • Rich
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      The state does not collect information on every sale of tobacco in order to prevent sales of tobacco to minors. The state does not collect information on every retail sale of beer in order to prevent excess alcohol possession which violates the state possession limit. There is no reason for the state to collect this information other than as a means for a bureaucracy to selectively alter a market according to their personal whims rather than simply implementing reasonable rules which are not overly onerous on law abiding businesses. If the ABC has reason to believe that a business or individual is violating the law then they should have to work to build a case. Otherwise the citizens and businesses of the state should be presumed to be law abiding and not harassed into submission by state employees who are appointed to their positions.

  11. Cody
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Is this most likely a way to crack down on people purchasing alcohol for minors? Or is it really just a weird pointless bureaucratic thing?

    • Rich
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      It’s not pointless. It’s intended to make it difficult to make off-premise sales.

  12. Posted August 3, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    This looks like an example of what Fred McChesney calls “rent extraction.”

  13. John
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Looking at the text of the proposed rule change and giving perhaps undeserved credit for regulators being reasonable people and not in some way conspiring against craft beer operators, I believe that the rule change is actually intended to record information for WHOLESALE beer, wine and spirit sales. The text most certainly indicates that it applies to retail sales as this FTH posting indicates, but I believe it is a mistake. The problem is that the rule as written could actually be imposed with the dire consequences indicated here. One would think something like this would be reviewed for errors before posting…

  14. John
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    and, by the way, the proposed rule doesn’t say anything about recording the driver’s license number.

    • Rich
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      The early draft did, and FTH has removed that based on the revised rule that was posted.

  15. John
    Posted August 4, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I do NOT understand the reasons for the new rules

    20-X- 9-.04. Record Keeping Requirements for In-State Manufacturers of Beer, Wine and Spirits, and Brew Pubs

    that have been proposed to collect personal information on the people whom purchase such products..You do NOT collect this information at STATE STORES. OR at BEER STORES.

    I fail to see any connection for this information to be collect and verified. AND allowing
    3. Off – premise sales reporting shall include the purchaser’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth, and shall be subject to verification by the ABC Board
    MY Letter to the State ABC Board

    ?P?lease do NOT further consider these proposed changes. ITS an INVASION OF PRIVACY of the People of Alabama that seems to give the ABC Board reason to have warrants issued to those Consumers who purchase for OFF premise consumption by the State Police, and Local Agencies…

  16. Rick
    Posted August 4, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I totally disagree with this misuse of power by the ABC and think this is a gross violation of my privacy!

5 Trackbacks

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