Take a Look at the Newest Liquor Laws in America

By Keely Burkey
Posted in The Field Guide to Drinking in America, on June 19, 2016

A lot has happened in the American beer, wine, and spirits world since we last took a look at the country’s changing liquor laws. As a dutiful press we feel it’s our duty to keep our readers up to date. Be sure to pick up a copy of Niki Ganong’s The Field Guide to Drinking in America, where hundreds of liquor laws (both historic and modern) have been lovingly compiled for every adventurer’s benefit. Without further ado, let’s get started!

 

Colorado 

In a surprising and controversial move, Gov. John Hickenlooper recently signed a bill that will gradually allow the sale of full strength beer, wine, and liquor at Colorado grocery stores. This will be a huge change for the state, whose laws previously limited grocery stores to sell beer with an ABW (alcohol by weight) of under 3.2% (what Coloradans not-so-lovingly call “near beer”). However, don’t go looking for a bottle of Bacardi the next time you make a pit stop in a Boulder’s Safeway—the bill merely starts a phase-in for grocers to acquire liquor licenses over the next 20 years.

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Searching for a drink in the “near beer” aisle. Image source

 

New York 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has amended New York’s 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, set in motion after the end of the Prohibition. Cuomo sees these changes as a substantial overhaul of the state’s “archaic” blue state laws. Here are some of the changes:

—Get ready for a boozy breakfast! On Sundays alcohol can now be served at 10am in restaurants rather than 12pm.

—Wineries can now sell wine in growlers.

—Liquor stores can now sell gift wrapping and gift bags to customers.

—The biggest changes will affect breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries. Cuomo’s bill will simplify the paperwork and regulations required to acquire liquor licenses, and reduce fees placed on these businesses. It’s the governor’s ultimate goal to increase jobs and businesses in the state by promoting this sector of commerce. We fully support his efforts!

 

Pennsylvania 

Governor Tom Wolf just signed a bill that will loosen liquor laws in Pennsylvania in a few ways:

—Anyplace that currently sells beer (like grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants) will now be able to sell wine as well.

—State liquor stores will now be open on holidays, good news for any procrastinators come Fourth of July.

—The most controversial amendment, however, deals with casinos. The bill states that casinos will no longer have a “last call”—gamblers can now get a drink 24 hours a day at casino bars! Some Pennsylvanians fear that this change will increase the amount of DUIs, but Gov. Wolf has assured his constituents that, should statistics indicate a drastic change, he will amend this portion of the bill.

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Gov. Wolf signing the historic ledger. Image source

 

Alabama

Previously, Alabama was the only state that banned breweries from selling directly to customers. Brewery visitors could only indulge in the company’s wares by ordering glasses of beer to be consumed on the premises.However, with a new bill, the 25-or-so craft breweries currently in Alabama can sell six packs, large bottles, and growlers to their loyal patrons (or curious out-of-towners). Alabama is notoriously strict with their liquor laws, influenced by anti-liquor religious sentiments as well as old Prohibition-era decrees that have yet to be changed. However, this new bill could mark a turning of the tide, perhaps leading to more Alabama-based brews available at your local watering hole.

field guide to drinking in america

It’s certainly striking how different each state’s liquor laws can be! Overcup Press’s Editor-in-Chief, Pat McDonald, says as much in his own blog post highlighting the reasons Overcup published the Field Guide in the first place. However, you don’t have to wait for our next blog post to keep informed about out-of-state drinking. For more useful tips and facts about drinking in America, pick up a copy of Niki Ganong’s The Field Guide to Drinking in America!