I don’t really understand caps on the abv of beer that can be sold in a state. If your state allows liquor sales and wine sales, why do you cap the abv of beer at some random number like 5 or 8 percent?
In Tennessee, it is now legal to sell beer that has an abv of up to 8%. Slow down Tennessee, you’re almost catching up to the 20th century. North Carolina caps beer at 15%, which is fine and unnecessary. I’ve tasted beers over 15% abv and they mostly taste like carbonated liquor. At which point I would rather just drink bourbon anyway.
I guess of all the predictions about the 2017 year in beer I’ve read (I haven’t been writing, but I have been reading during my illness/recuperation) the one I will make is that beer and alcohol laws will continue to evolve across the country. By evolving I mean restrictions on the strength of beer and wine that can be sold when you can buy alcohol, where you can buy alcohol, “Zion curtains”, etc. will all be challenged from one side of the country to the other.
These types of laws are part of the “bootleggers and Baptists” school of public policy. That just means, the laws were thought up by some group with the moral authority to protect the huddled masses from the dangers of demon alcohol but supported financially by some part of the three-tiered system that could see the long-term financial gain in their favor.
For instance, capping the ABV of beer helps distillers, capping the amount of beer brewers can sell on their own helps distributors, restricting when and where certain forms of alcohol can be sold helps a segment of the retailers. That is why whenever any of these laws are challenged and someone fighting against it uses public safety as a cover for their position I laugh. Someone for the wholesaler lobby in NC used that last year in their continued fight against raising the distribution cap. That person hasn’t spoken to the press since. That’s how stupid the argument seems when said out loud.
What other things do I predict? People will continue to buy craft beer at a high rate, but the number of breweries overall will begin to flatten out as newer (3 years or younger) less successful breweries close and are replaced by even newer breweries. I’ve been saying this for 2 years. This might be the year I’m finally right.
Brewery taprooms will continue to increase in importance and the taproom experience will evolve giving breweries more personality.
Craft beer people will argue whether beer names are offensive or just good fun.
Malty beers will grow in importance for brewers as hops get harder to come by with so many breweries out there making IPAs and DIPAs. Will the public follow or will they keep demanding more hops?
Finally, I predict I will take the Cicerone Exam on May 22. Since I’ve paid my fee, I know that one is going to occur. I won’t predict whether I’ll pass it, but I will predict if you read this blog you will probably get some form of update (weekly?) on my progress.