SB294, the “Gourmet Bottle Bill” will be on the Alabama House calendar this Thursday, May 3rd according to Free the Hops. Currently, Alabama law restricts beer sold in the state to 16-ounce containers or smaller. Alabama is the ONLY state in the US with this restriction on the books. SB294 changes that restriction to 25.4 ounces which would allow the sale of 22-ounce and 750-ml bottles, but NOT the more “controversial” 40-ounce bottles.
13 of the 41 “wet” counties in Alabama have actually changed their local laws to allow the sale of larger beer containers. However, the counties containing Alabama’s four largest cities and the majority of its citizens (Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery and Mobile) have not passed these laws. Passing SB294 would change the laws at a state-wide level which would allow the citizens in every wet county in Alabama to purchase large-format beer bottles and cans.
Here are the “pro” arguments for passing SB294:
- Every other state in the nation allows citizens to buy large-format beer bottles.
- Almost a third of Alabama’s wet counties already allow their citizens to purchase large-format beer containers.
- Alabama citizens can purchase large-format wine and liquor bottles, but not beer.
- Alabama citizens can buy half-gallon and gallon-sized beer growlers (plastic jugs filled with draft beer), but not 22-ounce or 750ml glass bottles.
- Most craft breweries showcase their most prestigious offerings in large-format bottles. Currently, Alabama’s craft beer enthusiasts have to travel to other states to purchase these beers which takes money out of the pockets of Alabama businesses.
- Forcing Alabama citizens to buy large-format beer bottles out-of-state ALSO takes tax revenue out of Alabama’s coffers.
- Large-format containers are a more economical and environmentally-friendly packaging method for small breweries. Passing SB294 would be advantageous for the growth of local Alabama breweries.
- Helping local Alabama breweries grow brings more jobs, more income, and more tax revenue to the state.
Here are the “con” arguments against SB294:
- Alcohol is the devil’s fruit juice.
As of today, SB294 has passed the state Senate and simply awaits a vote in the House. If it passes the House, it will be on to the Governor’s desk for a signature before becoming law. Please, please, PLEASE contact your local state representative before May 3 to urge them to pass this bill. I am including a form letter at the end of this post that you can e-mail to your local rep, but feel free to call them instead or write your own letter. Keep it civil and clean. You don’t get laws passed by writing angry, profane screeds or by yelling at your rep.
To find your local rep, use the legislator search on Free the Hops:
Dear Representative ________________,
I am writing to voice my support of SB294, the “Gourmet Bottle Bill”. Currently, Alabama is the only state in the US that restricts beer from being sold in containers larger than 16 ounces. As an Alabama citizen and a craft beer consumer, I strongly urge you to pass SB294 to allow beer to be sold in larger bottles and cans.
Large-format containers are used by many craft breweries to showcase their most prestigious offerings. Passing SB294 would allow these highly sought-after beers to be sold in Alabama which would eliminate the need for our citizens to spend their hard-earned money outside the state. Large-format bottles are also more economical and efficient for small breweries to use during the packaging process so passing SB294 would help our local Alabama breweries prosper and grow.
Please support SB294 to give Alabama’s craft beer consumers and businesses the same basic rights as those enjoyed by citizens and businesses in every other state in the country. This bill will bring jobs, income and tax revenue into the state while also increasing consumer choice. Passing SB294 will be a “win” for everyone.
Thank you for your time.