TN bills seek to allow high-gravity beer in grocery stores - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

TN bills seek to allow high-gravity beer in grocery stores

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

As legislation makes its way through the state Capitol that would allow wine sales in Tennessee grocery stores, there's a growing movement to do the same for high-gravity beer.

"If you want to buy a high-gravity beer in Tennessee, you have to buy it in liquor stores," said Linus Hall, owner of Yazoo Brewing Company.

By state law, a beer is considered "high gravity" if it has more than 6.2 percent alcohol by volume.

While high-gravity beer is not included in the so-called "wine in grocery stores" legislation, two bills currently in the works are giving brewers new hope to get their craft varieties in more places.

"What the bill would do would be to redefine what beer would be defined as. By percentage, Tennessee has the lowest [alcohol limit] in the southeast," said State Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville.

Sexton says by changing the definition of beer, the high-gravity brews could be bought anywhere beer is already sold.

"It would be in convenience stores, grocery stores and so forth," he said.

Sexton says the bill will look to raise the alcohol cap on beer to a level at least as high as surrounding states, which he says range from 9 percent to no cap at all.

Most high-gravity beers contain between 9 and 15 percent alcohol by volume, sometimes actually lower than wine, which can range between 12 and 20 percent alcohol by volume.

Brewers and distributors have to buy an additional license just to make high-gravity beer, and those in the industry argue raising the alcohol cap would make having the license more worthwhile.

Senate Bill 2095 and House Bill 1983 are expected to head to committee sometime this month.

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