Due to the hard work of an Alabama organization known as Free the Hops, there appears to be a compromise agreement working its way through the Alabama Legislature as a bill that the Governor will sign.
Free The Hops is a grassroots, non-profit organization whose mission is “to help bring the highest quality beers in the world to Alabama.” The organization’s website says, “We are motivated by a desire to have the same variety of choice when purchasing beer that Alabama citizens already enjoy when purchasing wine.”
Started in 2004 by Alabamians with no ties to any alcoholic beverage business, Free the Hops was incorporated later that year and registered as an official 501(c)(6) non-profit in 2007.
The main opponents of relaxing the onerous brewpub restrictions were the holy rollers, of course, but more significantly, the production breweries and the wholesale distributors.
Years of negotiations and hard work by Free the Hops have resulted in a compromise bill that is now in the legislature with predictions of passage. The bill, if enacted and signed by the Governor, would allow brewpub operations to sell beer to wholesalers for distribution outside the brewpub. Annual brewpub production would be capped at 10,000 barrels.
As a compromise, the bill will allow production breweries to have tasting and samplings without being restricted by the brewpub regulations and without having to buy an additional ABC license.
All of this is apparently too late to help quickly reincarnate Mobile’s brewpub on Dauphin Street. I’m told that the brewing equipment in that location has been sold to a Colorado business. But hey, new equipment can be bought, and with new sales and distribution channels soon to be available, maybe some adventurous entrepreneur can offer us some great specialty beers.William Bruce is a business broker and appraiser assisting business buyers and sellers in the Southeastern United State.