Free the Hops was originally founded as a grassroots advocacy organization in 2004. Although we have expanded the scope of our mission since then, a huge part of our mission continues to be advocating for craft beer consumers in Alabama. We do this by advancing legislation to make Alabama a better place for craft beer, working with other like-minded organizations, and serving as a watchdog in Montgomery at the State House and the ABC.
Gourmet Beer Bill
Free the Hops’ first major accomplishment was the passage of the Gourmet Beer Bill in May 2009. This law effectively legalized craft beer in Alabama by increasing the limit on alcohol by volume (ABV) in beer from 6% to 13.9%. This was a huge step for beer lovers across the state.
Brewery Modernization Act
We continued our mission to Free The Hops in Alabama, and in May 2011 passed the Brewery Modernization Act, which allows breweries to sell on-premises like a brewpub, or to wholesalers, or to both, and removed the crippling restrictions which prevented new breweries and brewpubs from opening. In the years since, tasting rooms have opened all over Alabama.
Gourmet Bottle Bill
In May 2012 we passed the Gourmet Bottle Bill, allowing the sale of bottles up to 25.4oz (750ml). Many specialty offerings from craft breweries are only offered in 750mL bottles or 22 oz bombers.
Craft Consumer Watchdog
In 2016 and 2017, we widely publicized a proposed ABC regulation that would require brewery tasting rooms to collect and report demographic information from their customers, including their name, address, phone number, and amount of purchase. The public outcry over this effort killed the proposed regulation and eventually led to the passage of legislation to prevent future attempts to collect personally identifiable information from tasting room consumers.
We later worked with the ABC in 2018 after they identified a state law which might have required breweries and brewpubs to close their doors on Saturday evening and all day Sunday. We worked with the Alabama Brewers Guild to support legislation to clarify the law to allow breweries and brewpubs to stay open.
Other Groups We Support
Homebrewers faced antiquated restrictions which left Alabama as one of only two states outlawing homebrewing. We supported the leadership efforts of Right to Brew by asking our members and supporters to contact their legislators to support their proposed changes. Homebrewing in Alabama was finally legalized in May 2013!
We also regularly work with the Alabama Brewers Guild as they pursue legislative and regulatory changes that may affect the interest of craft beer consumers. In 2016, we asked our grassroots supporters to support the Growler Bill, allowing breweries to sell a limited amount of beer to-go from the brewery or brewpub. The Growler Bill was signed into law in March 2016!