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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

HB161: The Brewery Modernization Act

At this point in time, there is not a single operating brewpub in Alabama. Archaic restrictions make it practically impossible to operate a brewpub in a profitable manner. Under current state regulations, a brewpub must be located in a historic building located in a county in which beer was brewed for public consumption prior to prohibition. Brewpubs are also prohibited from bottling their brews for consumption off the premises:

"(1) The brewpub premises must be located in an historic building or site as defined in Section 40-8-1, in a wet county or wet municipality, in which county beer was brewed for public consumption prior to the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1919." §28-4A-3(a-1)
"(3) Beer brewed by the brewpub licensee shall not be possessed, sold or dispensed except on the premises where brewed, and shall not be packaged or contained in other than barrels from which the beer is to be dispensed on the premises for consumption on the premises." §28-4A-3(a-3)

Many breweries outside of Alabama feature tasting rooms, where beer (and sometimes food) may be purchased. Most also give brewery tours that often end with samples. Unfortunately, tasting rooms and tours are also prohibited in Alabama: 

"No manufacturer licensee shall sell any alcoholic beverages direct to any retailer or for consumption on the premises where sold, nor sell or deliver any such alcoholic beverages in other than original containers approved as to capacity by the board and in accordance with standards of fill prescribed by the U. S. Treasury Department, nor maintain or operate within the state any place or places, other than the place or places covered by the manufacturer license, where alcoholic beverages are sold or where orders are taken." §28-3A-6(b)

Last Thursday, Representative Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay) introduced the Brewery Modernization Act to the Alabama Legislature. Last year, this bill was passed in the Senate but failed to reach the House. 

Synopsis: "Under existing law, alcoholic beverage manufacturers located in Alabama that produce beer are not permitted to sell any alcoholic beverages on-premises. The only exception is a special class of beer manufacturers called brewpubs, permitted under the Alabama Brewpub Act, which may sell beer brewed on-premises to consumers for on-premises consumption only.This bill would remove certain limitations on brewpub operation and allow brewpub licensees to sell beer brewed on-premises to a licensed wholesaler for distribution to retail licensees."

Read the full bill here: Brewery Modernization Act

What can you do to help?

Join Free the Hops and sign up for their newsletter.

Call, fax, email or write a letter to our elected officials requesting their support on HB161. A list of officials and their respective districts can be found here

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