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Roy L. Williams
Members of the Alabama Beverage Control Board Public Commission on Alcohol Sales listen during hearing in Hoover.
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Roy L. Williams
The Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board held a public hearing in Hoover City Council chambers on Tuesday, July 28.
When it comes to alcohol sales, Alabama has strong opinions on both sides.
That was the case during a public hearing held at the Hoover City Council chambers on Tuesday, July 28 by a public commission of the Alabama Beverage Control Board. The Alabama Legislature this year appointed a special ABC commission to review the state’s policy on wholesale beer sales as it considers changes proposed by craft brewers across the state.
Like other public hearings held in Mobile and Huntsville, the hourlong meeting drew a packed crowd to Hoover. Some of the speakers urged the ABC to turn down efforts to ease state restrictions on alcohol sales, saying it would lead to more alcohol consumption by minors and hurt society. Meanwhile, advocates for craft brewers said Alabama’s current laws are too restrictive compared to other states and hurt sales.
Stuart Carter of Free The Hops, a grassroots nonprofit that advocates craft brewers, said Alabama’s beer regulations, though better than when he moved to Alabama in 2005, need to be eased in order to allow craft brewers to grow and add jobs.
“We are still more restrictive than other states,” Carter said. “We’re not looking at competition from Mississippi or Missouri. We have competition from 49 states plus Canada, Mexico and other states. Our alcohol by volume restrictions is the fourth lowest in the country. That is hurting our industry.”
Carter said Alabama also doesn’t allow tourists to take beer home when visiting breweries, unlike other states. “That has cost Alabama at least a third of a billion dollars, hundreds of direct jobs. You are taking 100 beer jobs away that also help support 500 other jobs.”
While Carter advocated for restrictions, Dan Ireland of ALCAP (Alabama Citizens Action Program), a moral watchdog group comprised of churches and individuals, lashed out against it.
“No matter what you do to expand the sale of alcohol, we are in opposition to it,” he said. “The easing of the rules you would make in this particular change of legislation is not what we need.”
An ABC Board study commission officer said the panel will consider information gathered from the hearings in October and make recommendations to be considered by the Alabama Legislature when it convenes in the spring of 2016.