Laying Down the Beer Law

How legislation is affecting the beer you can buy at a local distributor.


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For a beer lover, there's nothing like a fine craft brew. The history of home brewing is so rich and such an integral part of Americana that it's hard to imagine there are laws that limit local beer distribution in some states. Talk about archaic!

One of the most selection-limiting laws currently in effect is the ABV (alcohol by volume) limit law, which prevents the sale and distribution of beers that contain more than a certain percentage of alcohol. In Mississipi and Iowa, for example, you can't get beer with more than 5 percent alcohol content, which knocks out an estimated seventy-five percent of beers in the world. While South Carolina and Georgia have dropped the ABV law, the states that haven't are abundant with angry beer-lovers screaming bloody murder.

In Florida, before 2001, there was a law in effect for nearly 40 years that only allowed a distributor to sell beer in 8, 12, 24 or 32-ounce bottles (selling 22-ounce bombers and European imports made in 330, 500 and 750 ml bottles was illegal). Now, you can pick up beer in all bottle sizes under 32 ounces. The crux, however, is that the law still does not allow for sales and distribution of blessed growlers (approximately 64 ounces). The reasoning behind the regulation? Distributors argue that a change in the law would result in increased beer prices, with the need for more warehouse space and bigger trucks to handle the wider variety of cans and bottles.

Not all beer laws are as doom and gloom as the aforementioned ones. Some are actually quite humorous! It's illegal for a bar in North Dakota to serve beer and pretzels at the same time. In Missouri, it's against the law for anyone under 21 to take out the trash if it has any empty alcohol containers in it. You can't buy alcohol before the polls close on election day in Alaska. Bartenders can't serve you alcohol in New Hampshire unless you're sitting.

These limiting regulations are prompting people to turn to organizations like the American Home Brewers Association and Lift the Limit to rally against these laws. They are indeed fighting for their fight to imbibe good beer.  

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