2013 was the year Tennessee craft brewing business advocates fought for (and won!) changes to an old school regulation that set its state beer tax as the highest in the nation. This year, Tennessee brewers and distributors have set their sights on increasing the allowable alcohol by volume (ABV) limitations on grocery store sales. State law currently clocks in “high-gravity” beer at 6.2 percent. Yikes.
From NBC WSMV out of Nashville, there is a growing movement to change this, on the heels of already proposed legislation that would move wine into the grocery store aisles:
“If you want to buy a high-gravity beer in Tennessee, you have to buy it in liquor stores,” said Linus Hall, owner of Yazoo Brewing Company.
While high-gravity beer is not included in the so-called “wine in grocery stores” legislation, two bills currently in the works are giving brewers new hope to get their craft varieties in more places.
“What the bill would do would be to redefine what beer would be defined as. By percentage, Tennessee has the lowest [alcohol limit] in the southeast,” said State Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville.
Sexton says the bill will look to raise the alcohol cap on beer to a level at least as high as surrounding states, which he says range from 9 percent to no cap at all.
Senate Bill 2095 and House Bill 1983 are expected to head to committee sometime this month.