Why some Tennesseans want the governor to adjust the beer cap - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Why some Tennesseans want the governor to adjust the beer cap

Posted: Updated:
If Gov. Bill Haslam signs it, strong beer will join wine on grocery and convenience store shelves by 2017. If Gov. Bill Haslam signs it, strong beer will join wine on grocery and convenience store shelves by 2017.
The limit on alcohol in beer also impacts breweries that only have a license in Tennessee, confining them to produce beer below the legal ABW percentage. The limit on alcohol in beer also impacts breweries that only have a license in Tennessee, confining them to produce beer below the legal ABW percentage.
Craft breweries contributed more than $445 million dollars to the Tennessee economy in 2012, according to the Brewers Association. Craft breweries contributed more than $445 million dollars to the Tennessee economy in 2012, according to the Brewers Association.

(WMC-TV) - A cap ailing the state's beer industry could soon change if the governor approves a bill that allows the sale of high-gravity craft beer in supermarkets.

If Gov. Bill Haslam signs it, strong beer will join wine on grocery and convenience store shelves by 2017. The Tennessee House and Senate passed the measure.

Tennessee currently has a 5 percent alcohol by weight (ABW) limit on beer, which makes for the most restrictive beer cap in the southeast. Any beer higher than that limit must be sold in liquor stores.

The limit on alcohol in beer also impacts breweries that only have a license in Tennessee, confining them to produce beer below the legal ABW percentage.

"Without other expensive licenses we can't produce styles like a barleywine in Tennessee. Breweries outside of Tennessee, in states with less restrictions, can produce these styles and then sell them in Tennessee," said Memphis Made President and Co-Founder Drew Barton. "We're effectively put at a disadvantage behind out-of-state breweries.

In order to brew beverages over 5 percent, businesses must obtain a distillery license, according to Tennessee code. Craft breweries including Memphis' Wiseacre and Nashville's Yazoo Brewing Company have the license.

But the visitors to the Yazoo taproom cannot buy the brewer's only high-gravity offering because of the bill, reports the NBC affiliate in Chattanooga.

"Raising the limit will definitely help all breweries in Tennessee by allowing them to produce more styles of beer, without an extra license, and compete with out-of-state breweries. Restaurants and retail stores will then have more options of Tennessee produced products to sell," said Barton.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Ryan Haynes and Sen. Bill Ketron, would raise the limit to 8 percent by weight, or about 10 percent by volume.

Ketron told The Tennessean that craft beer is the fastest-growing segment of the industry and that the state is way behind.

Fix the Beer Cap, a group working toward reform, wanted a 12 percent ABW. But supporters say the bill means progress for beer laws in Tennessee—surrounded by states with a 17.5 percent ABW or even no cap—as it improves production for current breweries and encourages other entrepreneurs to start up in the state.

Craft breweries contributed more than $445 million to the Tennessee economy in 2012, according to the Brewers Association.

To read more about the breweries in Memphis, click here: http://www.wmctv.com/slideshow?widgetid=100625&clienttype=generic&mobilecgbypass.

Get the latest from Action News 5 anytime: iPhone | iPad | Android | SMS Alerts | Email Alerts | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Copyright 2014 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.