Free the Hops

Free the hopsAccording to the grassroots non-profit Alabamans for Specialty Beer (ASB), Alabama is one of only three states in the country to restrict beer according to it’s percentage of alcohol by volume – they cap it at a mere six percent. They also limits beer containers to a size of no more than one pint (16 American ounces).

These restrictions were created as a compromise intended to ease the repeal of Prohibition. But the rest of the country has long since progressed beyond these short term transition measures, and thus Alabama is living in a state of beer anachronism. According to ASB’s website, Free the Hops, these restrictions:

. . . limit consumer choice; stifle the state’s beer, retail and restaurant businesses; and limit state tax revenue as thousands of Alabamians purchase their specialty beer in neighboring states.

The One Pint Law
They claim Alabama is the only state to restrict the serving size of beer and that this law should simply be eliminated. Here is the law verbatim (from their website):

“All beer, except draft or keg beer, sold by retailers must be sold or dispensed in bottles, cans or other containers not to exceed one pint or 16 ounces.”

The Six Percent Law
Here’s the law restricting beer to six percent ABV:

“BEER, or MALT OR BREWED BEVERAGES. Any beer, lager beer, ale, porter, malt or brewed beverage, or similar fermented malt liquor containing one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume and not in excess of five percent alcohol by weight and six percent by volume, by whatever name the same may be called.”

These Alabamans propose simply changing the limit to the same that exists for wine, which is fourteen and nine-tenths percent by volume.

Thus, their rally cry: “Let’s join the rest of the country and Free The Hops.” To which I reply, “Right on brother. Pass the World Wide Stout.”

Um, wait a minute. At 18% ABV, Dogfish Head’s alcohol bomb still wouldn’t pass muster. I guess Alabama would be no “Utopia” even with the proposed legal change.


3 Responses to Free the Hops

  1. popthecap says:

    Mississippi is working on it (; West Virginia is rumbling about it as well.

    Every state that lifted a beer cap within the past decade has had to negotiate and agree to a higher limit (versus no cap at all). This includes Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It’s just the way it is — some legislators honestly believe that brewers will make a a 50% superbeer.

    Interestingly, Vermont still has an 8% cap.

  2. beeractivist says:

    Hey popthecap,

    Thanks for the info and stats. And thanks for popping the cap in North Carolina! Last August, when the family vacationed in your fine state, I was happy to enjoy the fruits of your labor when I found a great little beer shop in Emerald Isle that had an impressive array of brews, including a number of them that would have previously been illegal in NC.

    Yesterday, at a Real Ale festival here in my neck of the woods in Montgomery County, Maryland, we were discussing the woes of a county controlled alcohol distribution system. Its something that desperately needs to change but nobody feels there is any hope because apparently it is worth about $200 million to the county.

    Any advice for starting a campaign here to take beer distribution out of the hands of the county would be appreciated.


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