Nashville Craft Breweries and the Law

19 March 2012 Categories: All Blogs

The Tennessean posted an article today about the emergence of craft breweries in Nashville. One of the things that is briefly addressed in the article is the laws that affect these breweries’ ability to do business. We decided to explore these laws in a little more detail. Title 57 of the Tennessee Code is entitle “Intoxicating Liquors” and has a majority of the laws relating to alcohol in the state. The Alcoholic Beverage Commission was created by legislation in 1963 and is comprised of 3 members appointed by the governor of Tennessee. The commission is in charge of making rules and regulations to control the industry.

One of the areas of law the craft breweries will be looking into changing is the 5% law. Chapter 5 of Title 57 is titled “Beer and Alcoholic Beverages Containing Less than Five Percent Alcohol.” This section has a entirely different set of rules different licenses, and different taxes than any alcohol above 5%. The reason this area of the law is important to craft brewers is that make craft beers are over 5% alcohol. The brewers will be lobbying to change the law so that a beer with 9% alcohol would be treated the same as a 5% alcohol beer.

It will be interesting to follow the lobbying efforts. We think it will at least force the legislature to reexamine Tennessee’s alcohol laws and make sure they are in the best interests of the state.

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