The Alabama House passed a bill that would allow bigger beer containers Wednesday after the same bill failed a procedural hurdle in the same body the day before. The bill, known as Senate bill 294 or SB294, has already passed the Senate, and now just needs the governor’s signature to become law.
UPDATE: Gov. Bentley signed the Gourmet Bottle Bill into law on Wednesday, May 17, 2012.
“Alabama is the only state that restricts beer bottle size to 16 ounces or less,” Gabe Harris, president of the non-profit Alabama beer advocacy organization Free the Hops told Weld in an e-mail in February. Right now, those 16 ounce tallboys are the biggest beers, in terms of container size, that we can get in this state. That means that there are still many beers that Alabama brew aficionados have to bootleg from neighbor states.
“Many out of state breweries such as Stone or The Lost Abbey will not come to Alabama until this law is passed,” Harris said. “Just about every craft brewery packages at least some of their beers in 22 ounce or 750 milliliter bottles and this restriction is severely limiting the number of breweries Alabamians can choose from.”
The synopsis for the House bill says it all: “Under existing law, all beer, except draft or keg beer, must be sold by retailers in containers not to exceed one pint or 16 ounces. This bill would allow beer to be sold in containers not to exceed 25.4 ounces.”
The vote on the budget isolation resolution, or BIR (a procedural hurdle that allows the House to bring up a piece of legislation before passing the general fund budget) for the bill passed Wednesday night with 65 ayes and 18 nays. A vote on the bill itself quickly followed, and the House passed the bill with 58 ayes and 34 nays.
On Tuesday, a vote for the BIR on the same bill failed 42-40. Afterwards, Free the Hops put this statement on Facebook:
“We have learned that several ‘No’ votes today were part of some political crossfire oddly unrelated to our bill. Politics sucks.”
The bill now awaits a signature from Gov. Robert Bentley, who could choose to sign the bill into law or veto it.
CORRECTION: This story originally said that Bentley could choose to “not take any action on [the Gourmet Bottle Bill] (a “pocket veto”)’ but that was incorrect. Due to the last day of the legislative session being rescheduled to Wednesday, May 17, the Gourmet Bottle Bill missed the pocket veto window.