The bill's passage follows a five-year struggle by Alabama's grassroots gourmet beer advocacy group, Free the Hops, to raise the limit on the alcohol content of beer sold in Alabama from 6.0% to 13.9%. The higher limit will allow Alabama's package stores, grocery stores, and bars and restaurants to sell and serve higher gravity beers.
After Alabama's senate passed the gourmet beer bill last Thursday, Free the Hops mobilized its followers. The organizations urged its members and followers to call Gov. Riley's office and encourage the governor to sign the bill into law. Free The Hops announced a final push for calls just hours before the governor signed the bill.
"I have been informed that our phone calls made the difference," said a post on the FreeTheHops Twitter account after Riley signed the bill. "Everyone who called the Gov deserves credit for getting this done."
What happens next? Well, first, we celebrate. J. Clyde will host a celebratory party tonight at 5 p.m. featuring cask ale from Birmingham brewer Good People. In Huntsville, a similar party will commence at 5 p.m. at The Nook.
After that, Free the Hops might look to other limits on Alabama's beer and brewing, such as Alabama's container size limit for beer.
For more information and updates, check the Free The Hops website or Twitter.