The Wall Street Journal reported on May 14 that a bill passed by the Alabama Senate would raise the amount of alcohol allowed in beer from 6% to 13.9%. The current six-percent limit means that many kinds of beer, such as Belgian ales and American "craft" beers, cannot be sold in Alabama at all. The bill would make them available if it becomes law.
The bill is in part the result of a five-year effort by Alabama craft beer lovers who founded a group called "Free the Hops." It passed the state senate despite the best efforts of 60-year-old GOP Sen. Hank Erwin, one of the most conservative legislators in that conservative state. All you really need to know about Erwin, I think, is that (1) he blamed the people of New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina, saying it was God's punishment for "gambling, sin and wickedness," and (2) he doesn't like beer.
Erwin actually staged a filibuster last month to block a vote on the beer bill. In the course of his filibustering he told colleagues that passing the bill "would set us up for sheer disaster for the consequences that would come of it," thus proving he is no better acquainted with the English language than with reality. He didn't get around to saying exactly what disaster he feared would befall the people of his state if Belgian ale were set loose among them. Probably the same sort of wickedness that we all associate with Belgium.
It remains to be seen whether the state's governor, Bob Riley, will sign the bill into law. According to his press secretary, Riley has not yet taken a position on the bill but will "review it thoroughly."