On March 24, at 11:00 AM, Governor Bentley signed HB176 into law. This legislation allows breweries and brewpubs in the state to sell up to 288 ounces per person per day for off-premise consumption. It also removes unusual location restrictions for brewpub licensees in Alabama and allows for charitable contributions to nonprofit events.

The law will take effect on June 1, 2016

Our member breweries are extremely pleased with the bill. Many are reporting that they are busy updating their processes and retrofitting their operation to take advantage of this new law.

A big thank you to the legislature and Governor

While Governor Bentley signed the bill into law, our bipartisan and bicameral legislative sponsors, Representative Anthony Daniels and Senator Bill Holtzclaw, both of Madison County, were the legislative champions that guided the bill through the State House. With their support and an additional 46 cosponsors in the House and 10 cosponsors in the Senate, we were able to enjoy strong vote margins in both chambers.

This bill was the product of the Alcoholic Beverage Study Commission, a legislative committee formed last year to consider the competitiveness of Alabama’s alcoholic beverage laws. Co-chaired by Representative Alan Harper and Senator Paul Sanford, the commission has received well-deserved praise for their thorough work in considering the issues brought to them. It was a difficult job to balance competing interests to develop a strategy that follows the best practices throughout the United States. The recommendations they made to the legislature in January accomplished that goal.

In addition to the two chairs, the commission included Representative Alan Boothe, Representative Steve Clouse, Representative Anthony Daniels, Senator Tim Melson, Senator Arthur Orr, Senator Bobby Singleton, and Mr. William Thigpen.

A big thank you to our distribution partners

While we have obviously clashed with our distributors on legislative issues over the years, we would like to praise them for fully participating in the process and directly engaging this organization and our members. Members of the Alabama Wholesale Beer Association and the Alabama Beer Association participated in no less than three formal meetings throughout the state with representatives of the Alabama Brewers Guild.

Those talks led to some understandings and agreements about what was best for the industry. This helped us to work with the commission together as they developed their final recommendations for the legislature. In the end, their members, executives, and lobbyists fully supported the commission’s recommendations and even helped it get through to final passage.

In short, this has been a textbook example of industry coordination and legislative leadership to accomplish meaningful legal reforms.

Impossible to thank everyone

Rather than try to list everyone, I will just say that this effort enjoyed the support of a huge number of people. It was not just the Alabama Brewers Guild vs. the world. Our leaders and other Brewing and Allied Members were instrumental, but this legislation was ultimately successful thanks to the work of dozens of individuals and organizations.

So what’s next?

We get this question a lot. Right now we have no immediate legislative agenda, although we will continue to maintain a strong government affairs component. Future realities may change the situation, but we don’t have any new bills we are waiting to file.