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Alabama: Lawmakers to consider loosening alcohol restrictions

Alabama: Lawmakers to consider loosening alcohol restrictions

Source: The Anniston Star

January 12, 2016

Alabama brewpubs and wineries would see some of the state’s restrictions on their operations loosened under a trio of bills headed for the Legislature.

State law bans off-premises sales of alcohol by brewpubs – where beer is both brewed and served – and wineries. But a legislative study group Tuesday voted in favor of a plan to allow some off-site wine-tastings and beer sales to brewpub customers who want to take some beer home.

The Legislature’s Alcoholic Beverage Study Committee also voted to support a plan to allow brewpubs at more sites. State law now allows brewpubs only in areas where a brewery was operated in the past; the committee voted to support elimination of that rule.

All three changes will be proposed in separate bills in the legislative session beginning Feb. 2, said committee chairman Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville.

Both small brewpubs and large alcohol distributors – often rivals in the battle over alcohol restrictions – have pushed for changes to some of the state’s restrictions on serving alcohol at breweries and wineries.

“We’re very satisfied,” said Dan Roberts, executive director of the Alabama Brewers Guild. “It will improve the chances for some these brewpubs to grow.”

Joe Godfrey, director of the anti-alcohol group Alabama Citizens Action Program, said the proposed rule changes mark another step toward a state with no alcohol sales restrictions whatsoever. Alcohol-related problems cost the economy billions per year.

“All these things add up, and eventually you remove all restrictions on the sale of a mind-altering substance,” he said.

None of the proposed bills has yet been filed with the House or Senate. The Legislature convenes in February.