Watered-Down Beer Turns Into Watered-Down Reforms


We’ve written about weak beer laws before in this space—including calling for Utah to get rid of its 3.2-percent alcohol-by-weight cap that limited the strength of beers that could be sold by grocery stores in the state. Utah finally reformed the cap earlier this year, leaving Minnesota as the only state left in the country with a 3.2 law. But as R Street’s Jarrett Dieterle points out in a recent piece for Governing, the states that have repealed their 3.2 laws have simply replaced them with a slightly higher cap:

Today, 3.2 laws are mostly a thing of the past. This is because a handful of state legislatures -- including long-time holdouts Kansas, Oklahoma and Utah -- have cleared away their versions in recent years. Minnesota is now the last state to limit convenience stores and groceries to 3.2 beer. (Unlike some former variants of 3.2 laws in other states, Minnesota permits licensed liquor stores to sell stronger beer).

This string of modern reforms may seem to beer-lovers like cause for celebration, but the reality is that America's weak-beer wars are far from over. Not only does Minnesota still have its law on the books, but many of the states that did repeal their 3.2 laws merely replaced them with slightly less onerous versions.

For instance, while Kansas overturned its 3.2 law this year, it ended up only raising the permissible alcohol level for beer to 6 percent alcohol-by-volume. Because of the different units of measure -- the original 3.2 laws used alcohol-by-weight, whereas Kansas' new limit uses alcohol-by-volume -- the reform is less than meets the eye: A 6 percent ABV beer is actually only a 4.7 percent ABW brew, a disappointingly modest increase. Oklahoma did slightly better in raising its threshold to 8.99 percent ABV (around 7 percent ABW) while Utah was only able to muster a raise to 5 percent ABV (around 4 percent ABW).

The larger issue is that these new limits are still completely arbitrary and especially unsuited to the modern craft-beer era…

Read the rest here.

Kansas Allows Self-Service Beer Bars and Stronger Brews

Kansas was one of several states that still prohibited the popular self-serve craft beer bars that are sprouting up around the county. But according to the Lawrence Journal-World, state lawmakers have now legalized self-serve bars in addition to enacting a host of other beer reforms:

Bars and restaurants in Kansas will soon be allowed to start serving alcohol as early as 6 a.m., and pubs will be allowed to dispense beer through automated, self-serve taps.

Those are just two of the provisions of a multipronged alcohol bill that Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer signed into law Monday...

Other provisions of the bill allow microbreweries to produce beers with up to 15 percent alcohol by weight; regulate the sale and production of alcoholic candy and foods containing alcohol; and clarify existing statutes dealing with the sale of beer from microbreweries in refillable containers known as growlers.

The new laws will take effect when they are published in the Kansas Register, which is likely to be within the next few weeks.

More here.

Kansas Could Legalize Self-Service Beer Bars

Self-service taps at craft beer bars are becoming all the rage among beer aficionados, but some states still don't even allow them. Kansas is one of these states, but according to the Lawrence Journal-World, this could soon change:

Kansas is one of the few states that prohibit self-service beer taps at bars and clubs, though a bill under consideration in the Legislature could finally allow patrons to be their own bartenders.

Behind the bill is a trio of Topeka entrepreneurs who are aiming to open a new downtown bar, the Brew Bank, that would feature a wall of self-serve beer taps boasting the best offerings from local breweries. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee had a hearing on the bill Tuesday but didn't vote on it.

The idea proved popular with city business leaders, who named the Brew Bank the $100,000 winner of the Topeka Top Tank Competition, a contest searching for business ideas to revitalize downtown Topeka.

While self-service wine taps are legal in Kansas, the team discovered that wasn't the case for beer...

Read more here.

Kansas Legislature Considers Alcohol Tax Increase

Facing a state budget shortfall, the beverage industry in Kansas remains leery that state politicians will turn to them for additional revenue. Madison Coker reports at The Gardener News:

"As Kansas lawmakers continue to struggle with balancing the budget, a tax increase for alcohol might still be in play.

Facing a projected budget shortfalls of nearly $900 million through June 2018, Gov. Sam Brownback proposed a budget plan in January that included a 100 percent liquor sale tax increase, doubling it from 8 to 16 percent. While that budget was not approved, people involved in liquor sales are worried their industry could take a major hit if the budget crisis comes down to the last minute.

Executive Director of the Kansas Beer Wholesalers Association Jason Watkins said while most see a huge alcohol tax unlikely, legislators have not completely tabled the idea. 'We want to make sure we are there when they get to eleventh hour, they do not turn to alcohol taxes to find those extra dollars,' Watkins said.

Watkins is a creator of Ax the Tax, a campaign to advocate against the potential alcohol tax. Supporters of the movement include restaurants, bars and liquor stores across the state..."

Read more here: http://gardnernews.com/kansas-legislature-considers-possible-alcohol-tax-increase/ 

Kansas Gov. Brownback signs law to allow sales of strong beer in grocery stores

Kansans will finally be able to buy beer with over 3.2% alcohol content, now that the governor has signed a bill allowing beers of up to 6% alcohol. Daniel Salazar reports on the story for The Wichita Eagle:

"You will be able to buy stronger beer in Dillons and QuikTrip stores in Kansas in two years.

Gov. Sam Brownback signed a new law Tuesday allowing the sale of stronger beer in grocery and convenience stores in 2019. The Legislature approved the measure earlier this month.

It’s a significant shift in the way the state regulates alcoholic beverages. The bill was touted as a compromise between big box stores and some liquor stores in response to changes in alcohol laws in neighboring Colorado and Oklahoma.

The two sides had waged nearly annual legislative battles in Topeka over various 'Uncork Kansas' bills to allow the sale of strong beer and wine in more stores.

The House substitute for SB 13 will allow grocery and convenience stores to sell beer with an alcoholic content of 6 percent by volume starting in April 2019. Those stores now can sell only beer with an alcoholic content of 3.2 percent by weight..."

Read more at: http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article145319209.html

DrinksReform.org previously highlighted this story when the bill first cleared the Kansas legislature: http://www.drinksreform.org/blog-1/2017/4/7/kansas-house-panel-passes-bill-to-allow-stronger-beer-in-grocery-stores

Kansas House panel passes bill to allow stronger beer in grocery stores

Daniel Salazar reports for The Wichita Eagle:

Lawmakers advanced a bill that would allow stores like Dillons and QuikTrip to sell a stronger type of beer to customers starting in 2019.

The plan that passed a committee in the Kansas House is a compromise forged by big box stores and some liquor stores in response to alcohol law changes in neighboring Colorado and Oklahoma.

The two sides have often bitterly opposed each other in nearly annual battles at the Legislature over legislation proposed by Uncork Kansas to allow strong beer and wine on grocery and convenience store shelves.

The plan would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell beer with an alcoholic content of 6 percent by volume, said Rep. Erin Davis, R-Olathe. Those stores can currently only sell beer with an alcoholic content of 3.2 percent by weight.

Read more at: http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article142704329.html