Recommended changes to allow growlers, direct sales at breweries a chance for more growth in Alabama’s breweries

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — If a set of recommended measures for the legislature revolving around craft beer sales become reality, they could open doors for breweries in the state, especially smaller businesses.

In an effort to expand the booming craft beer industry in Alabama, the Alabama Brewers Guild is advocating to loosen the restrictions on sales straight from breweries for off-premises consumption.

Some brewers argue current laws mean roadblocks to growth.

After discussions and public hearings involving the Alcohol Beverage Study Commission, several recommended measures are heading to the legislature for consideration.

One of those measures would allow licensed brewers and brewpubs producing less than 60,000 barrels of beer yearly to directly sell up to 288 ounces, which is comparable to a case, per consumer per day for off-premise consumption. The law would apply to both draft and package beer.

For breweries across the state, the proposal would open a long-awaited avenue. For smaller breweries just getting on their feet, it would open an even larger door.

Main Channel Brewing Company in Guntersville opened its doors late last year. The only brewery in Marshall County, it caters in part to the visitors who come to the area for the lake and other destinations.

If the recent recommended measures put before the legislature for consideration become a reality, it will open doors for this growing business.

“For people like us who live in an a community like this that’s very tourist driven, we’re excited for the opportunities for people to come in and fill up a growler or get a case of beer, and be on their way,” says co-owner Brett Smith.

Smith says visitors ask if they could do just that and take the craft brew out on the water or elsewhere, but the answer had to be no. Other states allow it, and visitors from out-of-state are not aware of the law in Alabama.

For this brewery just getting on its feet, it would allow for a growth opportunity. “That’s what we’re most excited about is the growth opportunity, because when we started this we were not expecting to be able to do this,” Smith explains.

The brewery isn’t bottling or canning just yet, so if the measures are put into effect, it would be an unexpected avenue for the company.

“We had a business plan when we came into this that didn’t include this type of legislation, so we expect this revenue stream to really be able to help things,” Smith says, “Cash flow and things of that nature, and growth in general.”

Smith says the proposal would also help in getting the brand out and generate interest in the brewery. “The fact that it’s even on the table to be discussed is a wonderful thing in our eyes,” Smith says.

Brewers and brewpubs would also be allowed to deliver up to two donated kegs of beer per charitable or non-profit event.