Success so far
- With the signing into law of Free The Hops' Gourmet Beer Bill in May 2009, one major restriction on beer in Alabama was significantly loosened. This law increased the limit on alcohol by volume (ABV) in beer from 6% to 13.9%. This was a huge step for beer lovers across the state.
- We continued our mission to Free The Hops in Alabama, and in May 2011 passed the Brewery Modernization Act, which allows breweries to sell on-premises like a brewpub, or to wholesalers, or to both, and removed the crippling restrictions which prevented new breweries and brewpubs from opening. In the last 2 years, 3 taprooms have opened in Birmingham (Avondale, Cahaba and Good People), and 2 in Huntsville (Blue Pants and Straight To Ale).
- In May 2012 we passed the Gourmet Bottle Bill, allowing the sale of bottles up to 25.4oz (750ml). This came into effect August 2012.
- Home brewers - the keystone for most craft breweries - faced antiquated restrictions which left Alabama as one of only 2 states outlawing homebrewing; the other was Mississippi. We supported Right To Brew by asking you, our supporters and members, to contact your legislators regarding their proposed changes, and the new legislation came into effect May 2013. Congratulations to Right To Brew!
Still to come
There are still a number of other restrictions on beer and brewing in the state, though the Alabama Brewers Guild is handling some. The most obvious for Free the Hops is relating to brewpubs, though our aims for the 2014 session have not yet been finalized.
Current Brewpub Restrictions
Brewpubs are burdened with a number of arbitrary and unnecessary restrictions. One of the more notable restrictions is that they can only open in a county in which beer was brewed for public consumption prior to prohibition. (The requirement to be in a historic district was recently altered to include those designated "economically distressed" by the regulating municipality.) Brewpubs are also not allowed to bottle their beer for off premises consumption, as found in the following section of The Code of Alabama:
"(3) Beer brewed by the brewpub licensee shall be packaged or contained in barrels from which the beer is to be dispensed only on the premises where brewed for consumption on the premises or sold in original, unopened barrel or keg containers to any designated wholesaler licensee for resale to retailer licensees. " §28-4A-3(a-3)
These restrictions make it difficult for brewpubs to open and operate. Forbidding brewpubs from bottling their own beer for sale elsewhere cuts off a major source of potential income for them and obviously, limiting the counties in which a brewpub can open based on the history of brewing prior to Prohibition is a senseless restriction which keeps the number of brewpus in the state at a minimum. FTH supports the removal of these restrictions, and introduced legislation in 2011 to change them, but this restriction still stands.