Pricey Harrison

Friday, August 05, 2005

Specialty Beer Coming To North Carolina

The Legislature has approved a bill to raise the maximum alcohol content of beer that could be sold in North Carolina. The bill will allow a broader ranger of specialty beers in the state and should create new jobs. The House passed the legislation (House Bill 392) in April, the Senate approved the measure on Wednesday, and it now goes to the Governor for his signature.

Currently, North Carolina is one of six states in the nation that has a low alcohol content requirement. Microbreweries and beer aficionados have lobbied for the measure, which would allow beers above the current 6 percent alcohol limit to be brewed or sold commercially in the state and could create new jobs in the specialized industry. Beers with alcohol content over 6 percent would be clearly labeled. More than a third of the world's beer types have been unavailable in North Carolina because of the limit on alcohol content.

Supporters of the legislation said that it would expand the number of specialty brews that could be sold here, not tempt problem drinkers to imbibe more powerful beer. Opponents said it would offer a stronger, more dangerous option for young people who are prone to binge drinking; however, given the unique and sometimes bitter taste of the beer, as well as the estimated $4-8 cost per beer, it is highly unlikely that young people would make this choice. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) remained neutral on the bill, which garnered bi-partisan support.

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