I’m seeing/hearing lots of questions and a little misinformation already floating around.  Hopefully I can answer all the questions in one place.

“Won’t Governor Riley veto our bill since he vetoes all alcohol bills?”

Governor Riley does not veto all alcohol bills.  The most relevant example is a wine bill that recently passed which is very similar to our beer bill.  It raises the amount of alcohol allowed in wine sold in grocery stores from 14.9% to 16.5%.  That’s a direct parallel to what our bill does for beer.  Governor Riley signed the wine bill this week.  I believe the Governor is a reasonable man, and it would be extremely difficult for a reasonable person to justify vetoing our bill while signing another bill based on identical principles.

“How long does he have to sign it before it is ‘pocket vetoed’?”

The Governor has six days to sign it, excluding Sundays.  Today counts as Day One.  So he has until midnight Thursday to sign it.  If it doesn’t get his signature before that time, it will not become law.

“How will we know when he signs it?”

There is no state website that updates you on the status of bills awaiting signature as there is for bills being debated in the legislature.  The Free The Hops officers will know very soon after he signs it, and we’ll get the word out through this blog, through email, Twittter, Facebook, etc.  If you’re connected to the internet, you’ll know within a very short time of his signature.

“Will new >6% beers be at the Magic City Brewfest?”

Absolutely.  You’re gonna want to get your tickets ASAP.  If you thought you saw a sell out last year, you haven’t seen anything yet.  Better get to MagicCityBrewfest.com.

“When will we see the new beers at retailers?”

This a complicated one.  But to the best of my knowledge you should expect to see  a few products appearing at retailers no more than two or three days after the Governor’s signature is in place.  At least one beer distributor (in Birmingham) went out on a limb and stocked their warehouse with quite a few >6% beers in anticipation of our bill passing and they have all the paperwork lined up.  There will be a brief approval process from the ABC and then the beer goes on their trucks.

They may be the only distributor in that position, though.  Every other distributor in the state is going to have to start getting their paperwork together, and then placing orders from suppliers for products they’ve never ordered before, and that may take several weeks.

In short, I know Birmingham will start seeing a few things almost immediately.  But most products will have a lead time of several weeks.

“When will Oskar Blues/Dogfish Head/Stone/Lagunitas/[my favorite brewery] come to Alabama?”

I don’t know when your favorite brewery will sign a distribution agreement in Alabama.  Some of them may do it within the next couple months.  Some may still not be here two years from now.  There are a lot of factors that affect whether or not a brewery expands distribution into a particular state.  Although our 6% law was keeping lots of breweries out, it was not the only roadblock for some breweries.  I do know that Dale of Oskar Blues (maker of Dale’s Pale Ale) is an Alabama native who has been eager to bring his beer to his home state for a long time, and I would expect him to be among the first out of state brewers to sign a contract and get beer here in the wake of our bill becoming law.

Free The Hops will help keep you updated on what new beers are hitting shelves.  Stay tuned.

Just make sure you call Governor Riley’s office so we get his signature and all this becomes reality!  See the post below for details on that.