Well, our beer laws make us even more of an oddball state than previously thought. We’re not one of six states with a 6% ABV limit; we’re one of five. And come Monday morning, we’ll be one of four. We just changed the home page of this site to reflect this, and we’ll change it again first thing Monday once the Pop The Cap bill officially becomes law and North Carolina departs our infamous ranks.
Apparently Arkansas’s good name was unecessarily drug through the mud by Georgians for World Class Beer, Pop The Cap, and Free The Hops, as we all lumped them in with the states having a 6% ABV limit. I hope you’ll forgive us, Arkansas, as it was an honest mistake. After all, your state code is a bit misleading on this topic. See for yourself. Here’s the piece of Arkansas law that confused us:
3-5-202(3) "Beer" means any fermented liquor made from malt or any substitute therefor and having an alcoholic content not in excess of five percent (5%) by weight;
5% ABW is nearly equal to 6% ABV. There you have it. Beer is limited to (approximately) 6% ABV. End of story. Or so we all thought. What we missed was that Arkansas treats high gravity beer similarly to Tennessee. Both states allow high gravity beer to be sold, but they license, tax, and regulate it like liquor. Doesn’t matter that it’s not actually liquor. As far as those state governments are concerned, it might as well be. Further down in their code, you’ll find this definition (emphasis mine):
3-5-202(9) "Intoxicating liquor" means vinous, ardent, malt fermented liquor or distilled spirits with an alcoholic content in excess of five percent (5%) by weight;
“Malt” refers to malted grain, the most fundamental ingredient of beer, and of course fermentation is the process by which the sugars from the grain are converted to alcohol. A process markedly different from the distillation which produces hard liquor. But i digress.
So to sum up, in a period of less than a week we will have gone from proclaiming ourselves one of only six states with a 6% ABV limit on beer to one of only four. We are serious oddballs when it comes to beer legislation. It’s time to Free The Hops.