Somewhere in the last year, the tide turned. I don’t know quite when it happened but it did. At some point, local governments across the country decided that the tax revenue generated by breweries was more important than “protecting” their citizens from the evils of alcohol. It took almost 100 years, but alcohol is of more use as a revenue generator then it is a cudgel to enforce some version of morality.That is why articles like this pop up in newspapers every day.
I think craft beer and craft brewery culture is part of the reason this has happened. Now, it is possible to get sloppy drunk at a brewery or a craft beer bar. I’ve seen it done. However, it is a rather expensive proposition to get drunk drinking that much $5 a pint beers. Usually, when we cut someone off at Craft it is because we are like the 4th or 5th stop on that night’s bar hopping.
Let us not be stupid. Part of the reason craft beer people like beer is that it gets you a little drunk. The operative word, being little. There is an inclusive attitude inherent to craft beer you don’t get from macro light lagers. Using craft beer as a way to get blind drunk is expensive and inefficient.
Let me also caution, I’m not giving you the kumbaya, craft beer is a special snowflake that is above the crass marketing and pure business attitude of big beer. Because it is not. Craft beer is a great business. You get to provide people with a product that aids in their having fun and, in the process you get to make a little money. It’s much better than a real job. Trust me.
Anyway, craft beer culture places taste above alcohol content. This isn’t the gin lane from a William Hogarth fever dream. If you have ever been to a brewery taproom at 2 o’clock on a Saturday, you are more likely to see a dog or a toddler then a bro looking to wasted. This isn’t to say craft beer culture doesn’t have its own drunken buffoonery, but the majority of people who drink a lot of craft beer are rather mellow. The culture breeds a kind of laid back attitude.
This gives politicians the license to promote breweries to increase tax revenue. Tax revenue is shrinking as the cost of services increases in many places. A lot of these cities and counties have fallow industrial properties perfect for breweries. At the same time, the culture that craft beer represents isn’t seen the same way as “traditional” American beer or bar culture. This makes it acceptable enough to politicians.
I’m going to sit down and develop “Moe’s Alcohol Law Rule.” In short, it will say anytime you see a new law involving alcohol, it is actually a law designed to increase tax revenue and not to promote or discourage alcohol sale or use.