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


Thankful For The Relationship Between McCallie And Ridgedale Community

I would like to thank all the leadership at McCallie for allowing us to use the ROC for holding the Ridgedale annual Christmas party. It is very ironic that the initial meeting Patricia Rogers held to see about forming a community association in Ridgedale was held 23 years ago in December.  Miss Rogers' vision to end the decay and blight surrounding her and her mother was ... (click for more)

Never Has So Many Owed So Much To So Few

In the last two weeks our area has faced unprecedented tragedy, from the school bus accident to our local fires to the tornadoes and fires to our northeast. To our magnificent police, fire, first responders, state officials and FEMA employees, I can only repeat the eloquent words of Sir Winston Churchill in his response to the bombing of England by the Nazis to the RAF: "Never ... (click for more)

Curtis Coleman Sentenced To 144 Months For Dealing Heroin

Curtis Allen Coleman, 41, of Dayton, Ohio, was sentenced to serve 144 months in prison by Federal Judge Travis R. McDonough for heroin distribution in Chattanooga. Coleman pleaded guilty in August to a federal indictment charging him with, among other things, conspiracy to distribute heroin.  According to information on file with the United States District ... (click for more)

Red Cross Continues Tornado Relief In Southeast Tennessee

After tornadoes and strong straight-line winds moved through Southeast Tennessee on Tuesday evening, Red Cross mobilized more than 70 volunteers, provided shelter for displaced residents, and is working to ensure that emergency needs are being met for everyone who was affected.   “We are working very closely with our local Emergency Management Agencies and community partners ... (click for more)

Wilson, Hurricanes Pull Out 58-55 Win Against Baylor

From deep in the left corner, East Hamilton guard Vandrele Wilson, a 5-foot-7 junior, let fly with a 3-point shot, came back to the ground and stood concrete-still while watching the basketball hit nothing but net. As soon as the ball left his hand, Wilson was sure it was golden. The clutch 3-pointer gave East Hamilton a 56-55 lead over Baylor with 15 seconds remaining ... (click for more)

Hixson Holds Off Furious Late Comeback By East Ridge

The East Ridge Pioneers made an incredible comeback in the fourth quarter at Hixson Friday night, but unfortunately, close doesn’t count for much in high school basketball. The Wildcats didn’t exactly set the woods on fire with their free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter, but it was just good enough to save the day as Hixson prevailed by a 58-53 final in a game that really ... (click for more)