We are going to try something different with the Five Articles. At least for a little while. Instead of 5 takes on 5 different articles, I want to try one take on one article in 500 words.
One of the things you notice when you pay attention to the news surrounding craft beer is how there is a learning curve that has to happen in many parts of the country about craft beer and its culture. That is particularly true in places where alcohol has been historically demonized like the South and parts of the Mid-West.
I know in many places in the South, any consumption of alcohol is considered sinful and an aberration of “good” behavior. There is fear that allowing easy access to alcohol will lead to things like “Beer Street” or “Gin Lane.” William Hogarth’s painting is a depiction of what the wealthy and he upstanding thought happens when the poor and unwashed were given access to “demon alcohol.”
That idea of the degradation caused by unfettered access to alcohol led to the Prohibition movement in the United States which still persists. When you combine that fear with the power many alcohol distributors and their lobby have in most state legislatures you can get situations like the one in Alabama.
Recently, Alabama passed a law to allow breweries to sell growlers. As in many states where similar laws were recently passed, the distribution and big beer lobbies added in provisions to protect themselves. In this case, one of those provisions is to limit individual purchases of growlers from breweries to 288 ounces at any one time.
First problem, this limit is only for brewery growlers. You can buy more than one case of mass produced beer at your nearby gas station with no problem. Second problem, as often happens when legislatures pass laws to either protect a certain lobby or to solve problems that don’t actually exist without putting much thought behind their actions (NC HB2 anyone), someone has to enforce those laws. So, the Alabama alcohol beverage commission had to figure out how to regulate this 288-ounce limit and decided the best way to do it is to have breweries take down the name, address, and telephone numbers of anyone who buys growlers and give that information to the Alabama ABC. That went over like a fart in church.
So what will probably happen next is the Alabama legislature will have to go back and fix this, by taking out the limit on individual purchases and everyone will go on their merry way. This could have been avoided if legislatures were populated by more people with enough common sense, intelligence, and respect for the legislative process to actually read and understand the stuff they are asked to vote on during a session.
The people we elect to represent us in state legislatures are supposed to be the smartest most community dedicated people in the room. That is why we choose them to be our representatives. Our spokespersons. Unfortunately, what we seem to keep electing are the ones who can raise the most money. Not the smartest and not the ones who care the most about the least of us. And they are certainly not people dedicated enough to public service to read the things they are being asked to vote upon, much less care how these actual laws will affect the people and small businesses they are there to represent.