The Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild, the group that led the move to Fix the Beer Tax last year, is now attacking the second leading issue on their agenda, the beer cap. A beer cap is usually a good thing. It is usually directly adjacent to a quality craft beer (or possibly some lower quality fizzy yellow malt style beverage). In this case, however, it refers to the archaic law restricting the level of alcohol allowed in beer.
By definition, the State of Tennessee refers to beer as “a fermented malt beverage containing 5% or less alcohol by weight.” Most people know their beverage strength as alcohol by weight, or A.B.V. This 5% beer cap translates to a little over 6.2% A.B.V. Anything over that is referred to as high gravity beer, and can only be sold at a liquor store. Unfortunately, there are only about 560 licensed liquor stores in the state, and they have always known their profits to be from the sale of wine and liquor. The craft beer boom is relatively new, and they don't quite get it.
So what are we going to do about? Rally! Tomorrow, Friday, January 31, the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild is holding a Fix the Beer Cap rally at Flying Saucer, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. It is critically important that craft beer lovers in middle Tennessee come out and show their support for this next important legislative drive.
The Beer Cap limits Tennessee brewers from being as creative with their recipes as all other area states. In fact, of the twelve states in the southeast, five have no beer cap. Beyond that, all others have a cap well over double ours, except Mississippi at 8%. This stifles brewer creativity and limits consumer choice. Outstate brewers often choose not to ship in some of their most popular beers because they would only be available at liquor stores where there is limited shelf space. Good People Brewing, in order to sell their highly popular, 7.1% a.b.v. India Pale Ale, had to dumb it down to 6.2% so they could sell in Tennessee. Unfortunately, not many have the capacity, capability, or desire to dumb down their beer for us.
So, for better variety and selection, for the opportunity to continue to grow the craft beer community, and more importantly, continue the great economic impact of a thriving craft beer industry, please come out to the Flying Saucer, downtown Nashville, and help Fix the Beer Cap. It will be worth it! Many of the great area craft brewers will be there with special beers to sample. Meet the brewers, hang out with the beer community, and support a great cause. See you there.
Time for a pint. Cheers!