Add High-Gravity Beer To Wine In Grocery Stores Bills

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Craft beer is booming in Chattanooga. With multiple annual beer festivals, five breweries with at least two more set to open this year, several growler shops and beer-centric pubs and restaurants, and a booming homebrewer community, Chattanooga is well-positioned to climb the charts as one of our nation's best beer cities --heck, livability.com thinks we're already in the Top 10. 

But there's an important roadblock to all this progress: Tennessee's antiquated and arcane beer cap. Beer in Tennessee is defined as a fermented malt beverage containing 5 percent or less alcohol by weight (~6.2 percent abv). Any beer above that cap is defined as "high-gravity beer" and can only be purchased in liquor stores. Many of these liquor stores simply choose not to carry beer or they otherwise relegate beer to hot and dusty back shelves. While we're lucky to have some exceptions in Chattanooga, they are few and far between. 

HB47 and HB610 are finally moving forward in the Tennessee House. These bills aim to allow wine in grocery stores. These are important bills that not only allow Chattanooga consumers more choices, but also keep us from driving just across the Georgia state line to enjoy a wider (and cheaper) selection of wine any day of the week. These bills deserve our support and I know many of you have already written your local legislator to encourage passage. 

What these bills are missing is language to allow the sale of high-gravity beers in grocery stores as well. With the bills as they are currently written, later this year, you might walk into your local grocery store and see a brand new aisle of nothing but wine --wines ranging up to 18 percent alcohol by volume. Unfortunately, the beer cooler will look exactly the same. You'll still be limited to around 6.2 percent alcohol by volume. If you want a wider selection, you'll have to go to a liquor store --one that actually carries beer. 

I often hear the question, "Why can't we get 'Really Awesome Brewery' beers in Chattanooga?" It's simple: most breweries have a wide range of beers that run the gamut from low gravity to high gravity. If they can't sell their full portfolio here without distributing to different types of stores and navigating tricky tax code, why bother? Fort Oglethorpe is just across the border and they'll sell anything a brewery throws at them.  

Please, take just a few moments and write your local legislator. Let them know that we need high gravity beer added to the language in HB47 and HB610. 

Brad Lumley


Roy Exum: ‘No’ To Schools Budget

When the Hamilton County Commissioners and officials of the Hamilton County Department of Education met for 3 ½ hours on Tuesday, they studied a proposed budget of roughly $385 million – this $24.2 million over an anticipated $361 million in revenues. Now let’s pretend it is a Tuesday night at your own kitchen table and your favorite son – after misbehaving in a somewhat stunning ... (click for more)

No More Money For Schools

Re: County Commission Told To Fully Fund County Schools Improvement Request Would Take 28 1/2-Cent Property Tax Increase; 78 School Personnel Would Be Added No. No way. Really, NO! is not a big enough word to express my sentiments here. Even the exclamation point doesn’t add enough to do the job properly.  Mr. Coppinger said, “They are saying if you do this, we’re ... (click for more)

Federal Government Sues Life Care's Forrest Preston, Saying He Received Millions In Medicare Funds He Was Not Entitled To

Federal attorneys have sued Forrest Preston, founder and chairman of Cleveland, Tn.,-based Life Care Centers of America, claiming that he was "unjustly enriched" by receiving Medicare funds he was not entitled. The civil suit in Chattanooga Federal Court asks for the return of "millions of dollars." The government earlier sue Life Care on similar charges based on allegations ... (click for more)

Developer Plans Single-Family Homes, Townhomes, Apartments, Retail On 7.5 Acres At South Broad Street

A developer is planning single-family homes, apartments, townhomes and retail on a 7.5-acre South Broad Street site. The development by South Broad LLC and DEW LLC is located within several blocks between South Broad Street, W. 26th Street, Long Street and W. 27th Street. It would include a 3-story U-shaped apartment building with ground floor retail at the north end of the ... (click for more)

Hurricanes Whip McMinn County, 9-1, In 5-3A Baseball

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Three times Jordan Gorman set the table. Nick Woods punched three hits to the outfield and drove Gorman home in the third, fifth and sixth innings, powering East Hamilton to a 9-1 victory over McMinn County in the opening game of the District 5-3A baseball tournament at Cleveland High School on Wednesday. “Our mission was to win this game,” Gorman said, ... (click for more)

District 5-3A Softball Tournament Plans Finalized By Coaches

District 5-3A softball coaches are now ready for the second season. They hope their teams are, too. At a luncheon to finalize plans for the district tournament on Wednesday, the opening pairings were set in stone and play will begin Friday with three games, each starting at 5 p.m. at the highest seeded team. Second-seeded Soddy-Daisy (24-7) will host No. 7 Bradley ... (click for more)