Brewery Modernization Act Fails to Pass State Legislature

Posted on May 12, 2010


2009 was a year of celebration for beer-lovers throughout the state as the Gourmet Beer Bill (its champions are known as “Free the Hops”) cleared the Alabama State legislature. The bill allowed for the sale and distribution of high gravity beers, as the legal alcohol content on beer available in Alabama prior to 2009 could not be more than six percent alcohol.

In 2010, Free the Hops proposed The Brewery Modernization Act. According to the Birmingham Weekly, this bill intended to end restrictions on where breweries and brew pubs could be opened. (Current law requires buildings housing brewpubs to be of a certain age, among other regulations, making it extremely difficult to open and run such an operation.) The bill also would have allowed for tasting rooms in existing breweries and that breweries could “sell their beer via wholesalers and retail outfits.”

However, The Brewery Modernization Act did not pass the legislature and will have to wait until 2011 for another shot.

Again according to the Birmingham Weekly, the legislature also failed to pass a law making the home brewing of beer legal. (A hobby that is legally nationally, just not in this state.)

Per the Weekly, the only good news for beer-enthusiasts to come from this particular legislative session is that the Brooks Amendment, an add-on to the Gourmet Beer Bill of 2009, was repealed. Whereas a “tasting license” was required by those wishing to sell and distribute high gravity beer before, “starting July 1, any store with a license to sell beer will be able to sell ANY beer approved for sale in Alabama.”

At present, five breweries and brewpubs are in operation in Alabama: Emerald Coast Beer Company, Good People Brewing, Montgomery Brewing Company and Old Towne Brewing Company. One wonders if deregulation of brewery laws would not only grow business in the state, but also tourism as well, just as the Alabama Wine Trail has proven successful in both arenas over the past few years.