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News ABC confiscates homebrew equipment from Birmingham Hopcity!

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by slatetupelo, Sep 21, 2012.

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  1. Kinsman

    Kinsman Champion (873) Aug 26, 2009 California

    I've joked about this with friends before but we realzied country would be quite a bit smaller if we got rid of all the states we could care less about.
  2. cruzmissile72

    cruzmissile72 Initiate (0) Jul 26, 2012 Connecticut

    I've lived in Alabama and grew up in rural Texas in a county that was almost completely dry save for one town where people drove for miles to buy their beer and liquor. Stupid laws are just stupid laws.
    5thOhio likes this.
  3. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,231) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I have no doubt the average folks of Alabama are as intelligent or more than anyone. Based solely on what I heard of the few recorded Alabama legislators, I would bet every cent I own that the giant oak tree in my side yard could defeat them in a debate about the deleterious effects of homebrewing on the public health and well being.
  4. podunkparte

    podunkparte Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2009 Washington

    Reason #12,495 to never visit Alabama.
    Retail1LO likes this.
  5. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Zealot (501) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    As old Joe Stalin so wisely said, "One excuse is as good as another when you don't want to do something."

    These arguments against homebrewing remind me of the time South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings said about arming airline pilots after 9/11, "What if they went crazy and wanted to start killing the passengers!?"

    To which a pilot replied, "Senator Hollings, if I wanted to kill the passengers, I wouldn't need a gun to do it."

    Stupid excuses are stupid excuses...
  6. hardy008

    hardy008 Poo-Bah (1,951) Jan 12, 2008 Minnesota

    Time to get rid of these antiquated laws, and the asshat politicians who support them. Are we supposed to be a free country or not?
  7. harperman69

    harperman69 Aspirant (234) Feb 11, 2009 Tennessee
    Beer Trader

    Being from TN, I've been a little jealous of how far Alabama has come in regards to changing their laws in favor of craft brewing resulting in some very high quality breweries. This is just a speedbump on the road to progress. TN is making way less headway in repealing the stupid split at 6.2 ABV and the highest alcohol tax in the country have really spurned progress here.
  8. cruzmissile72

    cruzmissile72 Initiate (0) Jul 26, 2012 Connecticut

    The morality police need to go on a permanent vacation...
    MrHassellYaHurd and cavedave like this.
  9. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (524) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    (begin rant)
    So breaking any law is always wrong? Tell that to the civil rights marchers who faced the police guns on that bridge in Selma. I grew up in Alabama in the '60s and early '70s and I do remember, if dimly, the march. Not trying to equate homebrewing rights with voting rights, but as they say, it's a slippery slope.
    (end rant)
    fhyden likes this.
  10. fhyden

    fhyden Initiate (176) Sep 4, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Terrorist manuals.
    5thOhio likes this.
  11. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Still doesnt explain the books. That is not only not in compliance with that law, as books arent an apparatus used for the manufacture..., its a 1st amendment violation and opens the ABC up to federal charges (it wont happen, but it is a possibility).
    robinsmv likes this.
  12. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Well, I guess someone has to be the one who arrests Rosa Parks. I guess its you.

    The whole concept of civil disobedience is aobut violating laws that are unjust just for the sake of protest. If you werent taught that, your CJ program needs reworking.
    Retail1LO likes this.
  13. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    180k will spend in other states too.
    harperman69 likes this.
  14. yamar68

    yamar68 Initiate (0) Apr 1, 2011 Minnesota

    Alabama smells like diapers.
  15. klaybie

    klaybie Initiate (0) Nov 15, 2009 Illinois

    I would not hardly equate this with Civil Rights. Write your congressman/woman, hold a public protest, but don't complain when you get arrested for breaking the law. Should the law be changed? Yes. Are the agents doing their job by enforcing the law? Yes. Is it their job to refuse to enforce a law they may not agree with? No. Regardless of their stance, they must enforce every law. We live in a nearly equal society now, so the Rosa Parks comparison is quite a stretch. The laws now should be enforced until the people decide to make those mandates legal.

    EDIT. To be clear, I do not agree with enforcing laws that discriminate against individuals based on race, creed, religion, etc but this is not the case here. Change it or follow it, that's the idea here.
  16. daryk77

    daryk77 Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2005 District of Columbia
    Beer Trader

    Very true, I would argue that they could need even seize the equipment by and large unless its exclusive use was for making beer and could be proved as such. Again, there a multiple other homebrew stores in AL that operate without harassment so there must be away around this law if they are staying in business.
  17. BamaViper1

    BamaViper1 Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2010 Alabama


    There's a lot of commenting, name-calling, and shit-talking from people who have never stepped foot in, or know anything about Alabama. As far as this actual article goes, let's talk about what happened and why it happened.

    First about me. I was born and raised in Alabama. I'm a bartender at a restaurant 100 feet from HopCity. I love craft beer.

    Second, about Alabama. Over the last 3 years, Alabama has undergone a craft beer revolution. We've increased ABV percentages from 6 to 13.9 percent; allowed breweries to distribute their beer to distributors as well as open tap rooms inside their walls to sell their own beer;and increased the size in which containers of beer can be sold from 16 to 25.4 oz. Homebrewing is the next issue that craft beer advocacy groups are targeting for the 2013 legislative session, and this event at HopCity is a catalyst to raising awareness. In that 3 year time span, Birmingham now has 4 breweries, Cahaba Brewing, being about 400 yards from my restaurant, Good People Brewing, Avondale Brewing, and Beer Engineers, with others potentially coming. Huntsville has a handful of breweries, and I've heard that one may be opening or is opening in Montgomery. In a short time, the state has come a LONG way. And as one commenter posted, Alabama has even passed some of its other Southern state brethren in beer legislation. When it comes to food and drink, our state is doing big things, and will only continue to do so.

    Third, about HopCity. This bottleshop is beautiful. They sell wine. They sell bottled beer, some refrigerated. They sell draft beer to go in half and full growlers. They have a tasting wall, through which one could sample that draft beer before they bought the full growler. Their staff is knowledgeable and nice to boot. Their sister store in Atlanta, GA is equally a wonderful expression of craft beer retail sales. They are officially open, and I wish them the best.

    The raid was not like an episode of Boardwalk Empire, although the author of the article painted it as such. But the ABC board did confiscate equipment, and in some ways are justified in doing so. Yes there are other homebrew suppliers; however, none of them have liquor licenses and sell alcohol. Yes, the store did do its due diligence, and at no point were they not clear on the fact that they would be selling homebrew equipment - something that can be seen in the first article about the store on al.com. What happened is an expression of the antiquated laws about homebrewing in our state legislature, but we are fighting these laws as we've fought the others through groups like Free the Hops and Right to Brew, as well as contacting state legislators personally. We'll get there, and I imagine sooner rather than later.

    For those of you that like to repeat the smack you've heard about Alabama without any firsthand knowledge, I invite y'all to come and stay a while. This is the Year of Alabama Food - we're celebrating what our state has to offer culinarily in major cities across the state. Get some Gulf seafood; eat at a James Beard nominated/winning restaurant; let me make you a cocktail; come taste the great beer being brewed. Come to my city and check out how a metropolis at the epicenter of civil rights has transitioned from steel city, to banking city, to medical hub. Major cities and states across the country have their issues. California, for all its celebrities and weed, has massive debt issues. People are still questioning Boston's Big Dig. Yes, Alabama and its cities have their issues. Yes, there are incredibly rural and, sadly, incredibly poor areas of the state, and those things always bring their own set of problems. But you better believe that there are areas where science and tech reign supreme. I'm 27, and I love the ultra-urban environments of huge cities like New York and Boston, but it's crazy how often I hear peers say how great Birmingham and Huntsville and Mobile and other AL cities are, especially when it's time to raise a family. Southern women have something about them too. Longwinded story shory, come on down. Get in on what's happening here. Be a part of the changes here. See that things might be a whole helluva lot better than you could have ever thought.

    I will now remove myself from this soapbox.
  18. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Good rant man. Don't worry, there are plenty of idiots, obese people, and the lazy poor here in California too.
  19. Mojo

    Mojo Champion (845) Jul 21, 2012 Alabama

    BamaViper1 thank you for a well written intelligent defense of a place I call home as well. All too often Alabama is portrayed as a backward place populated by rednecks (and callers to the Paul Finebaum show), and social backwardness. Our passion for football is well known as one of our teams has brought home the National Championship three years in a row. But beyond that, we have a rich arts culture. In Montgomery alone there is an active symphony, ballet, art museum, and world class Shakespeare Company, all things that we are justifiably proud of and support as often as we are able. As you stated, we aren't perfect by any means. There is still much work to be done, but we are moving in the right direction.
    StuartCarter and TrappistJohnMD like this.
  20. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    I'd say that it's extremely obvious that we aren't, in the literal sense of the word.
  21. daryk77

    daryk77 Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2005 District of Columbia
    Beer Trader

    Thank you very much for more background on the situation and AL in general. I have been impressed with the strides that state has made in recent years towards beer laws.

    So does it seem Hop City is running into this difficulty because they are also selling beer and wine along with the homebrewing? Though it is illegal to homebrew in AL it still seems odd to me that they were "busted" by the ABC. Are they just trying to make an example of them or is there some behind the scene stuff that is motivating this? Like you said, they were pretty clear upfront that they would be selling homebrewing items so why wait till now to come down on them?

    These questions aren't solely directed to you but more just general questions, thanks.
  22. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,231) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I wish you and BamaViper the best in the good fight.

    Don't know much about your state, do know what I heard of your legislators on the audio clip of them discussing (for lack of better word) homebrewing. Those legislators I heard speaking on that audio clip would need an eight fold increase in intelligence to be half wits. I am embarassed for you because these folks were put in office by your neighbors, and that is something that must be a hard thing to know about your neighbors. Good luck with continuing and winning the fight for craft brewing freedom.
  23. Mojo

    Mojo Champion (845) Jul 21, 2012 Alabama

    One of the individuals from the audio is Representative Alvin Holmes. He is rightly regarded as a crack pot and a moron by most people who are familiar with him. He presides over a minority district in the city who continually reelect him. He is also a consummate hypocrite. While he rails against the evils of alcohol, there is at least one documented occasion when he was pulled over for drunk driving. It is commonly believed he has been pulled over multiple times and escapes due to a stupid exemption for state legislators. (Yet another law in Ol' Bama that needs to be changed.)

    StuartCarter and cavedave like this.
  24. harperman69

    harperman69 Aspirant (234) Feb 11, 2009 Tennessee
    Beer Trader

    Maybe if that friggin' jackass learned to homebrew he wouldn't need to worry about drinking and driving.
    barleywinefiend, cavedave and Mojo like this.
  25. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (524) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    Ok, 10 good things about Alabama, from someone who spent most of his early years and high school there:

    10. This thread. People in AL are waking up and learning to appreciate better things.
    9. Getting cold gallon milk jugs of BMC beer filled at the grocery store on a hot day (the original growler!).
    8. Yep, they play pretty good football, even in Auburn...
    7. Beautiful fall weather that lasts 3 months.
    6. Incredible Gulf beaches.
    5. Fishing and catching crabs from bridges over the bays.
    4. AL is catching up: 50 years behind in 1980, only 25 years behind now.
    3. Less racism than surrounding supposedly more developed states like GA or FL (at least it felt that way when I lived there).
    2. BBQ.
    1. Drive By Truckers.
    woosterbill and Mojo like this.
  26. frazbri

    frazbri Crusader (733) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    Let there be rock! (and home brew!)
  27. nrs207

    nrs207 Defender (687) Sep 8, 2011 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    This is like a poorly run middle school debate. I can't believe these people have been elected to public office. Guess it's a good thing I'm from PA and will never be going down there. I feel bad that laws are in their hands honestly, especially that Alvin guy who can't even speak the English language. That actually sort of scares me.
  28. Mojo

    Mojo Champion (845) Jul 21, 2012 Alabama

    I'm going to step gingerly here because this could easily get to be controversial and it is not my intention, but Alvin is the worst of the old school race baiters. Everything to him is an injustice directed toward his constituency. That's how he continues to thrive in his district, by alleging there is a white bogey-man in every closet. Now I acknowledge that racism exists and it is a blight on society, but Alvin thrives by keeping the pot stirred.


    And speaking from a personal nature, when my wife was in high school she served as a page for the state legislature one summer and Alvin sent her to get a piece of paper out of his car. When she got there, the whole back seat was piled full of paper and junk all the way up to the windows. Unable to find what he wanted, she returned empty handed and he cussed her. Not that was long before I met her, but if he cussed my daughter.....it would be ass-whoopin' time!!!
    StuartCarter likes this.
  29. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,300) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Someone I know who has a son in Huntsville said that between NASA and the Redstone Arsenal there are probably as many degreed Engineers and Scientists per capita as anywhere else in the nation, if not more.

    Not all of Alabama meets the stereotype.
  30. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    Enough of the voting population meets the stereotype to elect a state legislature full of bible thumping mouth breathers. That's all that matters.
    cavedave likes this.
  31. raffels

    raffels Initiate (168) Dec 12, 2009 West Virginia

    You pretty much just described D.C.'s very own Marion Barry.
    Mojo likes this.
  32. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,278) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Uh, that would be one of these :wink: >>>>
    skivtjerry and woosterbill like this.
  33. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,300) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Oh please! You may have some of those in your state from the agricultural regions.

    I was pointing out that the whole state was not a backwater. Did you miss that?

    I live near the "Peoples Republic of Ann Arbor". Known to be liberal. But where I live the district will probably elect someone that is just as bad as the person you talk about.
  34. coreyfmcdonald

    coreyfmcdonald Savant (953) Nov 13, 2008 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    From Germany?!?
  35. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Well yeah/duh, of course they needed the guns.

    Its against law enforcement policy and procedure to not shoot a dog when entering private property.
  36. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Because the federal government was given virtually unlimited power by the Supreme Court's fear of FDR's court packing plan. So they agreed to expand the reach of the Commerce Clause, making the concept of limited government, and especially the Tenth Amendment virtually useless. In my recollection, there have only been (2) instances where a governmental exertion of power in almost a century, have not been deemed a valid exercise of power under the Commerce Clause.

    You pose great questions and have great analysis of the issues btw. Stay smart Woosterbill, its who you are.
    woosterbill likes this.
  37. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    No, that is not "end of story". That's not even getting through the preface of the story.

    Yes, there's a hiearchy of laws. . . and natural law trumps federal law.

    So while many people are blasting religion as being the oppressive force causing this, I offer a competing view. Its the abdication of religion/Christianity that led us to this ugly path.

    If one is to truly follow the Bible, on its very first page(s), Genesis 1:1-30, God created all the life on Earth, and he tells man to use and exert dominion over these things, because they are good.

    So whether we are talking about marijuana, or the ingredients in beer, God created them, and told man to use them.

    The notion of man, much less men holding themselves out as Christian men, making laws contrary to one of God's very first edicts, does not sit well with this Believer.
    On a side note, I just saw my first published Supreme Court opinion came out today. . . we won! Time to celebrate with a, what else, Plead the Fifth tonight!
  38. Ariz

    Ariz Initiate (0) May 2, 2009 Alabama

    Hey at least in AL you can pick up a cold six pack or bottle of wine at the grocery store.

    Alvin is a clown. Part of it is just his way of saying give me more money if you want me to support your bill. Until about two years ago the legislatures in AL could legally make thousands of dollars a year getting cash from lobbiest in small chunks at time
  39. harperman69

    harperman69 Aspirant (234) Feb 11, 2009 Tennessee
    Beer Trader

    Most of those Bible beaters are really nice people. I don't live in Alabama but I've been there enough to know that the majority of them are good people. Break down on the side of the road and you're guaranteed to get all the help you need.
    Mojo likes this.
  40. bctdi

    bctdi Initiate (144) Dec 8, 2008 Georgia

    So , did they need approval to be in possession of home brew supplies from the abc? Was that the letter of the law that was broken? I thought they had their liquor license already. They probably confiscated the books and hops as evidence to support the other stuff they confiscated.
    I suppose the other homebrewing shops are also breaking the law as it is written, but they are not under the scrutiny of the ABC because they have no liquor license. As I see it, as bad as this is for hop city to have to deal with this loss, this could be the catalist that helps to get home brewing legalized in AL. This will get more publicity as Hop city defends itself, and maybe that will draw enough attention to this issue to push this legislation through to get it legalized and change this poorly written law about alcohol making supplies to exempt home brewing supplies.
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