Alabama beer to-goAlabama beer to-go bill HB 176 passes, sent to Governor

The Alabama beer to-go bill, HB 176, has passed.  It will allow brewery direct sales to consumers as well as easing restrictions on brewpubs.  The bill passed 68-17 in the House and 24-3 in the Senate.  This is the fourth piece of legislation passed in Alabama in a relatively short six (6) years.  Previous bills have included raising the ABV cap to 13.9% (2009), the brewery modernization law allowing pint sales in breweries (2011), and laws applying to packaging that allowed Alabama’s brewers to bottle in 22 oz. bombers (2013).  Anyone following Georgia’s battle knows this is pretty impressive for a state in the conservative South.  The bill has been sent to the governor for a signature, he’ll have 10 days to sign or veto it or it will automatically become law.  In the past the governor has had no issue with signing beer-related legislation.

It’s worth noting that this year’s bill was the result of a study commission’s findings.  A resolution to create a study committee (our version of AL’s study commissions)  in Georgia is currently working its way through legislation.  HR 1345 was presented by Rep. Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock) and would create a House study committee to look at breweries and distilleries in neighboring states to measure Georgia’s competitiveness in the industry.

I spoke with Jason Wilson of Back Forty Brewing  and the Brewer’s Association about the bill’s passage.  We recently chatted with Jason on our Georgia’s Neighbors episode, where he spoke with us about his brewery and the fight for better beer laws.  Jason said the new bill will allow breweries producing less than 60,000 barrels of beer per year to directly sell up to 288 oz (equivalent to a case of 12 oz cans/bottles) per person / per day to visitors.  The bill also allows breweries to deliver up to two (2) donated kegs of beer directly to a licensed charity event.  Brewpubs also received a bit of relief from the bill’s passage where it is no longer required that they are located in historic buildings, historic districts, or economically distressed areas.

Personally I can’t help but be a bit jealous of Alabama, as this drives home how far behind we are here in Georgia.  We stand here with our twinsy Mississippi, both of us the special, red-headed step-children we are.  But I’m really happy for the good folks in Alabama.  No, really, I am soooo happy for them… ಠ_ಠ

Hey, maybe our lawmakers will take note of this.  When Rep. Caldwell presented the study committee to the House special rules committee Rep. Rakestraw (R-Hiram) mentioned that she has a constituent in her district that has said he could move across state lines and make much more profit.  She was concerned with losing business to Alabama due to our archaic laws, looks like that possibility just got a lot more likely.

Alabama beer to-go
Alabama direct sale
Alabama brewery sales
Georgia’s beer laws suck