Free the Hops

I’ve been so busy at work that I’ve been collapsing at home, unable to concentrate long enough to post, much less think about beer or anything else. 

Well, there was that Bullfrog Smoked Porter my dad sent us, some Guinness left-over from the Irish Pumpkin Pie I baked, and the firkin tapping at Selin’s Grove which I have yet to post about – an event with Olde Frosty IPA on cask, Raspberry Baltic Porter and Snake Drive Stout. 

Okay, I lied about the “not thinking of beer” part.

Regardless, I was inspired when I got home after a 12-hour day of work and sat down with D to watch the YouTube video featuring clips from the March 4 Alabama House of Representatives debate on HB196.

Through friendships we made with a contingent of Beer Advocate folks last April and September, I’ve learned a lot about the crazy laws in AL.  Yes, they make PA look like a wonderland for beer (in terms of variety and availability on cask, we really are lucky.) It was disappointing to hear how stringent their laws are on homebrewing, container sizes, alcohol percentage… 

In Alabama, beer is the only beverage with alcohol by volume restrictions. Wine, malt liquor and hard liquor have no restrictions. The law being proposed would put the limit at 13.9% ABV for beer (it is currently 6%.) In comparison, 190 proof liquor can be purchased in any Alabama state-run ABC store.  I don’t know what our wine and liquor limits are in PA, and I’ve been playing librarian all day – I don’t feel like looking it up right now. But I do want to share a few quotes from opponents to the bill in the March 4 debate:

“What’s wrong with the beer we got?  I mean, the beer we got drink pretty good, don’t it?” – Rep. Alvin Holmes
“You know, personally, I wanna keep those hops in captivity!” – Rep. Richard Laird
“These are young people people from…I will use the term…from, maybe from Germany, that came in with Mercedes” – Rep. Thomas Jackson, when asked to explain who the Free the Hops Foundation is.
“Most of this beer comes from other countries…it is wrong, it’s wrong to…[stumbles]…sell alcohol and put it to the lips of teenage kids. And that’s exactly what this bill is going to do.” – Rep. DuWayne Bridges

The Gourmet Beer Bill did pass – 48 yeas to 42 nays – a passage nearly four years in the making, which now goes on to the Senate.

Good luck, ya’ll.  We’ll be watching and hoping for sensible legislation in Alabama.  And I’ll be wearing my Free the Hops t-shirt when I go touring the breweries of Minnesota and Wisconsin next week.

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One response

  1. Once again, a Southern state sets itself up for national ridicule. Similar arguments were used against such legislation in North and South Carolina and Georgia, and held no more validity then than now. Underage drinkers are not going to buy expensive premium beer. They will continue to drink easily-obtainable Bud Light or cheap rotgut, both of which are already legal in Alabama.

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