National: According to the Brewers Association, the trade group that represents smaller craft breweries, the Small BREW Act will be reintroduced in Congress in January 2013 after failing to come to a vote in 2012. H.R. 1236 and its companion legislation, S. 534, would have reduce excise tax rates for small brewers (those making under 6 million barrels a year), from $7.00 to $3.50/barrel on the first 60,000 barrels and $16.00 per barrel on beer production above 60,000 barrels up to 2 million barrels.
Alabama: Rep. Mac McCutcheon has proposed a bill that would legalize home brewing in Alabama — at least a very small amount of it. If passed, HB 9 would make Mississippi the only state maintaining a ban on home brewing. The bill would allow Alabamians to legally brew up to 13 gallons of beer, wine, cider, or mead every three months.
Colorado: Rep. Kevin Priola thinks he’s found a way to solve the ongoing battle to get full strength beer in grocery stores. Currently, grocery and convenience stores may sell beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent or less. Priola’s bill would let stores carry full strength beer made by “craft” brewers — that is, beer makers who produce less than 6 million barrels a year. MillerCoors and AB InBev will almost certainly push back against the move, as will liquor manufacturers being left out in the cold. When you try to change an entrenched system you will never make everyone happy, but perhaps this different approach is the step forward that can get the ball rolling.
District of Columbia: It’s now officially legal for stores to sell and deliver liquor on Sundays. On January 15, 2013, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Emergency Amendment Act and by the next day the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration began accepting applications from liquor stores hoping to stay open on Sundays. In addition to Sunday sales, growlers (reusable containers holding up to 64 fluid ounces of beer) can now be sold and filled by brew pubs, liquor stores, and full service grocery stores for off-site consumption.
Kentucky: Kentucky legislators are scrambling to respond to a court decision last year that overturned the state’s ban on selling wine and hard spirits at grocery stores and gas stations. The judge stayed his ruling, preventing stores from acting on the changed laws, but if the legislature can’t come to an agreement in the 2013 session, the ruling will go into effect.