Free The Hops


Free The Hops

Free The Hops is an incorporated nonprofit grassroots organization in the state of Alabama working to reform the state's beer laws.

Goals

The first law targeted by the group is the 6% alcohol by volume (ABV) limit on beer brewed or sold in the state. The 6% limit appears once in The Code of Alabama, in §28-3-1(3), addressing the regulation of alcoholic beverages. That section contains the following definition:

BEER, or MALT OR BREWED BEVERAGES. Any beer, lager beer, ale, porter, malt or brewed beverage, or similar fermented malt liquor containing one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume and not in excess of five percent alcohol by weight and six percent by volume, by whatever name the same may be called.

The group also intends to raise the 16 oz (0.47 L) container limit imposed upon beer sold in the state. The container limit appears once in The Code of Alabama, in §28-3A-23(g), addressing the regulation of licenses for selling alcohol. That section contains the following rule controlling retailers licensed by the state to sell alcohol:

All beer, except draft or keg beer, sold by retailers must be sold or dispensed in bottles, cans or other containers not to exceed one pint or 16 ounces.

Thirdly, Free the Hops intends to make homebrewing of wine, beer and mead legal in Alabama. Currently all three are permitted under federal law but prohibited under state law. As one of the most widely-ignored laws - many Alabama residents are surprised this restriction even exists - they aim to make legal the widely-practiced hobby of homebrewing for personal consumption (not sale).

ignificance

Combined, the limits on alcohol content and container size make thousands of beers illegal that are available in most other states in the U.S. The only other states with a 6% limit on ABV are Mississippi and West Virginia. Free The Hops is working to bring the beer laws of Alabama up to date with the rest of the country.

History

In 2006 the group succeeded in introducing bills in the state House and Senate, intending to raise the limit to 14.9% ABV. Neither bill made it to the floor for a vote. In 2007 the group again introduced the bills. The Senate bill languished in the Alabama Senate stalemate, but the House bill made it to the floor. It failed the BIR (Budget Isolation Resolution) vote (which requires a 60% majority vote to even consider a bill before the state budget has been passed).

The movement to raise the ABV limit on beer in Alabama follows similar movements in Georgia (Georgians for World Class Beer), North Carolina (Pop The Cap) and South Carolina (Pop The Cap - South Carolinians For World Class Beer). These states also had 5% and 6% ABV limits on beer until recently. Georgia's limit was raised to 14% in 2004. North Carolina's limit was raised to 15% in 2005. South Carolina's limit was raised to 17.5% in 2007.

In December 2007, Danner Kline resigned as president and was succeeded by Stuart Carter.

Legislation

2007 Legislative Session

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2007rs/bills/hb195.htm House Bill HB195] sponsored by Representative Thomas Jackson. This bill proposed to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% statewide. The bill never came up for vote during the 2007 legislative session.

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2007rs/bills/hb728.htm House Bill HB728] sponsored by Representative Oliver Robinson. This bill proposed to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% within Jefferson County. The bill passed the Alabama House, but never came to a vote in the Senate.

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2007rs/bills/hb851.htm House Bill HB851] sponsored by Representative James Buskey. This bill proposed to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% within Mobile County. The bill passed the Alabama House, but never came to a vote in the Senate.

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2007rs/bills/sb211.htm State Bill SB211] sponsored by Senators Griffith, Byrne, French, Lindsey, Singleton, and Penn. This bill proposed to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% statewide. The bill never came up for vote during the 2007 legislative session.

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2007rs/bills/sb320.htm State Bill SB320] sponsored by Senator W.H. "Pat" Lindsey. This bill proposed to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% within Baldwin County. The bill never came up for vote during the 2007 legislative session.

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2007rs/bills/sb328.htm State Bill SB328] sponsored by Senator W.H. "Pat" Lindsey. This bill proposed to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% within Mobile County. The bill never came up for vote during the 2007 legislative session.

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2007rs/bills/sb352.htm State Bill SB352] sponsored by Senator W.H. "Pat" Lindsey. This bill proposed to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% within Baldwin County. The bill passed the Alabama Senate, but never came to a vote in the House.

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2007rs/bills/sb418.htm State Bill SB418] sponsored by Senator Rodger Smitherman. This bill proposed to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% within Jefferson County. The bill never came up for vote during the 2007 legislative session.

2008 Legislative Session

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2008rs/bills/hb53.htm House Bill HB53] sponsored by Representative Oliver Robinson. This bill proposes to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% within Jefferson County. Current status is "Pending Committee Action in House of Origin"

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2008rs/bills/hb196.htm House Bill HB196] sponsored by Representative Thomas Jackson. This bill proposes to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% statewide. This bill will also require establishments who sell beer over 6% to post a notice to alert patrons that higher alcohol beer is being sold. The bill passed the Alabama House on 4 March 2008, with amendments to reduce the maximum ABV to 13.9% and to remove the requirement to notify patrons. Current status is "Passed by House of Origin" and is now waiting action by the Senate.

* [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2008rs/bills/sb116.htm State Bill SB116] sponsored by Senator Parker Griffith. This bill proposes to raise the permitted alcohol by volume (ABV) level in beer to 14.9% statewide. This bill will also require establishments who sell beer over 6% to post a notice to alert patrons that higher alcohol beer is being sold. Current status is "Read Second Time in House of Origin".

Boycott of Budweiser

In a January 23, 2008 press release, Stuart Carter announced that Free The Hops members were boycotting all Budweiser Products in response to the Birmingham Budweiser Distributors' ongoing efforts to block the groups bills from becoming a reality. The group is asking that businesses and non-members join them in the boycott until Birmingham Budweiser and its Vice President, Pat Lynch, publicly reverse their policy of opposition and actively start supporting the sale of gourmet beer in Jefferson County and throughout the state.

Beers on the FTH boycott list
• 9th Street Market Tuscan Orange
• Beach Bum Blonde Ale
• Bud Ice
• Bud Light
• Budweiser
• Busch
• Elk Mountain Amber Ale
• Hurricane
• Michelob Amber Bock
• Michelob Beer
• Michelob Black & Tan
• Michelob Golden Pilsner
• Michelob Hefeweizen
• Michelob Honey Lager
• Michelob Light
• Michelob Märzen
• Michelob Pale Ale
• Michelob Ultra
• Michelob Ultra Amber
• O’Doul’s
• O’Doul’s Amber
• Redbridge
• Shock Top Belgian White
• Spring Heat Spiced Wheat (Being turned into a year-round brew, Shock Top Belgian White)
• Sun Dog Amber Wheat ale
• Wild Blue
• Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale
• Ziegenbock

Popular culture

* The former President of Free The Hops, Danner Kline, was interviewed by Dan Bakkedahl on The Daily Show. The segment focused on the efforts of Free The Hops and contrasted them with a "Dry Oktoberfest" held in Cullman, AL. It aired October 18th, 2005.

References

* (August 25, 2005). [http://www.bwcitypaper.com/1editorialbody.lasso?-token.folder=2005-08-25&-token.story=136231.112112&-nothing Freedom to Drink Tasty Brews] "Black & White".
* (January 18, 2007). [http://www.al.com/huntsville/stories/index.ssf?/base/entertainment/1169115346311860.xml&coll=1 Hoppy New Year] "The Huntsville Times".
* (March 11, 2007). [http://www.al.com/news/huntsvilletimes/index.ssf?/base/news/117360504467560.xml&coll=1 Beer bill backers can taste victory] "The Huntsville Times".
* (January 4, 2008). [http://www.al.com/birminghamnews/stories/index.ssf?/base/news/1199438232276440.xml&coll=2 Free the Hops president resigns; successor named.] "The Birmingham News".
* (January 23, 2008). [http://bhamterminal.com/blog/2008/01/23/free-the-hops-boycotting-budweiser/ Free the Hops boycotting Birmingham Budweiser] "The Terminal".

External links

* [http://www.freethehops.org/ Free The Hops - Official Website]
* [http://www.popthecap.org/ Pop The Cap Website]


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