Alabama lawmakers passed a bill late yesterday evening that, if signed into law, would grant limited direct-sales privileges to brewers in the state and clean up other other outdated alcohol industry regulations.
Now en-route to governor Robert Bentley’s desk, Senate Bill 211, the companion draft of House Bill 176, would give small brewers in Alabama the right to sell up to 288 oz. of beer directly to consumers for off-premise consumption. If signed by Gov. Bentley, it would also end strict zoning laws requiring that brewpubs be located in historic buildings or economically distressed neighborhoods.
The Alabama House of Representatives voted 68 to 17 in favor of the so-called “growler bill,” while the Senate passed the act 24 to 3 less than two weeks later.
“Final Passage of SB211/HB176 has occurred. AKA the Growler Bill/Off Premise sale by AL breweries. Now to the Gov for sig. Cheers my friends,” senator Bill Holtzclaw, who sponsored the bill, wrote via Twitter last night.
Pending Gov. Bentley’s approval, the law would go into effect on June 1st of 2016.
The bill’s virtually unopposed passage marked the latest milestone in Alabama’s bipartisan effort to grow its burgeoning craft beer industry.
HB 176 was introduced to the state legislature following nine months of research conducted by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Study Commission, which lawmakers formed last year to review the state’s alcohol regulations. Committee members examined laws in other states and consulted with brewers, wholesalers and retailers before offering the proposed changes in January.
The Alabama Law Institute had drafted the bill just before the start of the state’s 2016 regular session.
“This is a significant step forward, but also a careful step forward,” Dan Roberts, executive director of the Alabama Brewers Guild, told Brewbound in January. “I don’t wanna say we’re done for the rest of all time, I think it’s gonna satisfy us for a very long time.”