Founded in 2004, Free the Hops is a grassroots organization formed to help bring the highest quality beers in the world to Alabama.
We have passed significant legislation, including the Gourmet Beer Bill that legalized beer with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of more than 6% and the Brewery Modernization Act that legalized brewery and distillery tasting rooms. We also supported the legalization of homebrewing and serve as a watchdog for craft beer consumers in Montgomery.
We have hosted the Magic City Brewfest in Birmingham since 2007 and the Rocket City Brewfest in Huntsville since 2009. These two festivals are the premier craft beer events in Alabama.
Since late 2019, Free the Hops is a program of the Alabama Brewers Guild. The management is led by a Governing Committee of dedicated consumer volunteers.
Free the Hops History
Free the Hops Timeline
Homebrew Legalization First Introduced
A bill to legalize homebrewing in Alabama was first introduced in the State Senate by Senator Larry Dixon. This legislation was supported throughout its history by both Free the Hops and the Alabama Brewers Guild, but most of the grassroots leadership came from an organized group of homebrewers and homebrew clubs throughout the state.
Gourmet Beer Bill Signed Into Law
Governor Bob Riley signs the Gourmet Beer Bill into Law!
First Rocket City Brewfest
The inaugural Rocket City Brewfest is held at the Historic Huntsville Depot and Roundhouse in Huntsville.
Gourmet Beer Bill Passes House of Representatives
The Gourmet Beer Bill passes the Alabama House of Representatives 48-42, but it dies at the end of the year after the State Senate failed to consider it.
First Magic City Brewfest
The first Magic City Brewfest is held at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham.
Gourmet Beer Bill Fails Procedural Vote
In it’s second year, the Gourmet Beer Bill by Representative Thomas Jackson passes committee, but later fails to pass a procedural vote for it to be brought to the floor. The procedural vote requires a 3/5 super-majority but failed on a 49-39 vote.
Gourmet Beer Bill First Introduced
The Gourmet Beer Bill was first introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Thomas Jackson and Senator Hap Myers. One of the primary drivers of the formation of Free the Hops, the Gourmet Beer Bill would raise the permissible ABV of beer sold in Alabama from 6% to 14.9%. (When passed in 2008, this was amended to 13.9%).
Free the Hops was the cover story for the St. Patrick’s Day edition of the Birmingham Weekly.
First Membership Meeting
The first general membership meeting of Free the Hops at Birmingham Beverage.
FTH Bottle Logo Adopted
Free the Hops bottle logo adopted from local graphic artist Lilla Hood.
Free the Hops Incorporated
Free the Hops is incorporated as an Alabama non-profit. The initial officers are Danner Kline, President; Lee Winnige, Vice President; Melanie Moore, Secretary; and Brandy Cole, Treasurer.
FREE THE HOPS Night held at locations in Birmingham and Huntsville to raise the funds needed to incorporate as a non-profit.