Letting Craft Brewers Thrive: Alabama Takes Action

Alabama still holds strict laws that hinder its people and visitors from drinking the craft beers they deserve. Break the shackles of the 'Bamabooze' restrictions that prevent Alabama's residents from being able to fill up a 64-ounce growler. Join the fight to Free the Hops and help put an end to the alcohol-content cap on beer and the beer-container limit in the heart of the South. Come help end this outdated restriction and raise a pint in solidarity.

Free the Hops in Alabama: The Need for Change

Alabamans are subject to an alcohol-content cap on beer, in addition to a beer-container limit. Alabama is the only state with a beer-container limit, and one of only four states with an alcohol-content cap on beer. Although wine, liquor and spirits are subject to no such limits, the laws limiting beer are preventing brewers from showing their artistry, experimentation, and creativity.

The History of Beer and Alabama

Beer-making has been around since ancient times. Ancient Egyptian, pre Incan and other early brewing civilizations all enjoyed various beers enjoying different grains, tastes and alcohol content.

Today, beer makers have all sorts of creative varieties, including things such as strawberry cream beer, pumpkin beer, and more.

In the United States, home-brewing and commercial beer have gone through significant changes over the last few hundred years. Of course, following the 18th Amendment and the start of Prohibition, home-brewing and alcohol consumption was outlawed, with exceptions made for religious consumption. Alabama was one of the last states to repeal its prohibition laws, doing so in 1969.

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Since then, beer brewers and consumers have faced the current restrictions imposed on them in the state of Alabama.

The Current Restrictions

Currently, in the state of Alabama, beer can have an alcohol content of no more than 8% by volume and be sold in packages no larger than 16 ounces (or 352 fluid ounces). Additionally, home-brewers are not allowed to sell their beer.

This means:

  • Brewers can’t make beer that has more than 8% alcohol by volume
  • Brewers are restricted to what containers can contain beer, with restrictions no smaller than 16 ounces (or 352 fluid ounces) per container
  • Home-brewers aren’t allowed to sell the beer they make

These restrictions make it impossible for Alabama breweries to make a wide range of different beers, let alone experiment and showcase their creativity. An 8% alcohol cap by volume on beer means that many popular beers and varieties cannot be sold in Alabama, or brewed in the state. It also prevents brewers from packaging beer in cans bigger or smaller than 16 ounces.

How Free the Hops Is Helping

Free the Hops is an Alabama-based 501(c)(6) organization of craft beer drinkers, brewers, pub owners, retailers and distributors that are dedicated to reforming the laws that inhibit beer appreciation and consumption in the state. They have helped lead the charge in getting some of the current restrictions changed since their inception in 2005.

The organization has been advocating for expanding beer choice and availability, and creating a proper beer culture throughout the state of Alabama. Free the Hops was also responsible for getting 'Samuel Adams Boston Lager' added to its list of allowed beers in Alabama.

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At present, Free The Hops is advocating for further increases in alcohol content in beer, increases in container size, and legislative changes that would allow home brewers to sell the beer they produce.

Reforms Necessary for Increased Choice

To ensure the craft beer scene in Alabama remains current, certain reforms are necessary. Increasing the allowable alcohol content by volume in beer, and increasing the maximum container size, will allow brewers to produce more varieties of beer and experiment further. Expanding the ability of home-brewers to be able to sell the beer they make will further increase the availability and appreciation of craft beer in the state of Alabama.

What You Can Do?

Every day craft beer drinkers, brewers, retailers and distributors in Alabama face restrictions on their craft beer options. To help influence change, you can become part of the Free the Hops movement. Here are some of the things you can do to help:

  1. Write to your federal representative and let them know your views on the Alabama beer laws which restrict choice and availability
  2. Join the Free the Hops movement. You can join as a 'Friend of the Hops' and keep abreast of any legislative change that is taking place.
  3. If you own a brewery, bar, or restaurant, consider joining the 'Growler Brigade' or the 'Tapping Alabama' program.If you own a brewery, bar, or restaurant, consider joining the 'Growler Brigade' or the 'Tapping Alabama' program.
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