The past week was dark and full of terrors. From the election, to a US loss to Mexico in World Cup qualifying, to the oven at the bar going out, this has been a long and disappointing week at every step. So, it is no surprise that today there is almost no beer news. It is like the beer reporters and even the reporters who know nothing about beer, but are often tasked to write about it in some human-interest way, have taken the week off to recuperate.
I did find this story. It is another story in the long list of stories that highlight how silly and patchwork alcohol laws are in this country. It also highlights how laws can affect two similar businesses in different ways. While some of the smaller distributors in Pennsylvania will suffer, I’m sure others will thrive and grow. There are also a few articles out there about the soon death of 3.2 abv laws across the country.
From what I can tell in 5 minutes of internet research, only 3 states currently have 3.2 laws on the books. Kansas, Utah, and Minnesota are the last hold outs now that Oklahoma has done a major rewrite of its alcohol laws.
What I find most interesting about these 3.2 laws is that I don’t think a majority of people want them. Brewers hate them. It is an added expense to brew beer specifically at that ABV and it makes it hard to your other beer in your own taproom. The public doesn’t want it. Wait. Most the public doesn’t care. Large retailers don’t want it. Large distributors don’t want it. So, why is it so hard to get rid of these laws.
Good question. I’m glad you asked. Here is my opinion. Some people in each state want the laws for public safety concerns. These are the people who don’t like alcohol anyway and look to limit the public’s access to it in order to keep the streets safe from destitute drunks wandering about causing mischief. Some people in each state want the laws because it helps their businesses. These are the small retailers and distributors who specialize in the small beer and know that provision is gone, their businesses must change or die. That is just enough people to gum up the work of changing these laws.
If it is not too obvious I’m struggling here. There isn’t even anything new or interesting at some of my favorite go-to places for beer news. Usually, I can go to a couple of places and get a good article or a good line of thought that brings me to another article that is interesting. Not today. Today, the beer world has decided to take some time and figure out things. I understand.
Hopefully, AB-InBev will buy another beloved craft brewery next week and we can all go back to carping and fretting about how AB uses all its money to limit our access to beer we probably never drank. Of course, with AB-InBev money and distribution behind it, we will all get to drink it. However, they will dumb it down and it will suck. That last part isn’t sarcasm, that is what they do.