Back in March, Alabama’s governor, Robert Bentley, signed into law legislation that will legalize brewers’ direct sale of beer to customers for home consumption.

Alabama.com reported at the time:

The new law will:

  • Allow breweries that make less than 60,000 barrels per year to directly sell up to 288 ounces of its beer per customer per day for off-premise consumption.
  • Allow breweries to deliver up to two donated kegs of its beer to a licensed charity event.
  • No longer require brewpubs to open only in historic buildings, historic districts or economically distressed areas.

That “288 ounces . . . per customer per day” limitation has resulted in a proposal from Alabama’s alcohol regulators that has raised more than a few eyebrows.  They want breweries to require customers provide personal information so that the breweries can provide that, along with individual sales information, to Alabama’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board.

The AP reports:

Alabama’s alcohol regulators want to know who is buying beer from one of the state’s craft breweries and taking it home to drink.

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is considering a new rule that would require brewers to collect the name, address, age and phone number from anyone who purchases beer at a brewery for off-premise consumption.

The Alabama Brewers Guild, composed of the state’s roughly two dozen breweries and brewpubs, said collecting the information would be an administrative nightmare and could pose concerns not just over privacy but also about potential data breaches and governmental use of the information.

The reporting of personal and sales information to the government has been accepted by the majority of Americans when it comes to gun sales  . . . but beer?

That’s not all.  The ABC Board’s rule apparently includes—or could be interpreted to include—the authority to enter someone’s home and check their fridge.

FOX10 News | WALA

The AP continues:

Industry groups are crying foul over the proposed regulation, which they say is an invasion of privacy. They also say it would be a logistical nightmare to collect the information.

“As nonsensical as it might seem, this rule would essentially empower the ABC Board to come to an individual’s house to confirm his or her purchase of a six pack of beer,” said a statement by Nick Hudson of Free The Hops, a group that has campaigned to increase craft brewing to the conservative, Bible Belt state.

The language of the proposed rule regarding the latter point is simply:  “Off – premise sales reporting shall include the purchaser’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth, and shall be subject to verification by the ABC Board” [emphasis added].

Free the Hops,  an “all-volunteer, grassroots organization whose mission is to help bring the highest quality beers in the world to Alabama,” issued a statement pertaining to the verification aspect of the proposed rule:

The implications of this should be highly concerning, not only to craft beer consumers, but to all people throughout the state. As nonsensical as it might seem, this rule would essentially empower the ABC Board to come to an individual’s house to confirm his or her purchase of a six pack of beer. One can’t help but ask, why?

The members of Free the Hops fully oppose this proposed rule. It represents an unprecedented, unnecessary, and overreaching invasion of privacy. It is something that unfairly targets beer consumers, but also, frankly, has frightening implications for everyone.

The Board likely means that they want the ability to scrutinize microbrewers’ records, but the ambiguity is worth correcting if it was indeed unintentional.

Bible Belt state or not, Alabamians are not likely to take kindly to the idea of government officials knocking on their door and demanding access to their refrigerator.   They will have the opportunity to express their thoughts about all aspects of this proposal, including the reporting of personal information and beer purchases to state government, between now and at the next ABC Board’s meeting on September 28th.

Alabama.com reports:

Dean Argo, government relations and communications manager for the ABC Board in Montgomery, said the board will consider all public input on the proposal at its next meeting, which is in late September. Argo would not comment publicly on why the record-keeping proposal is up for consideration.

“(The board) will look at that proposal and then the board can either make changes to that proposal by removing certain portions or it could choose to delay vote or it could choose to scrap the entire proposal,” he said. “If the board makes changes to it, then it would have to be readvertised and public input would have to be taken at that point.”