Liquor Laws Distilled
Morton, Heather, State Legislatures
Nearly 80 years after the repeal of Prohibition, states are still actively regulating the sale and distribution of alcohol, loosening some restrictions and tightening others. Legislators introduced more than 1,500 alcohol-related bills and passed more than 375 this year, numbers similar to prior years. Common topics included home brewing, serving and selling hours, direct shipment, tastings and samplings, and underage drinking.
Alabama and Mississippi this year lifted bans on home brewing--the last two states to do so. Alabama's new law gives a green light to homemade beer, mead, cider and table wine. Mississippi, which already allowed people to make wine at home, added beer, while New Hampshire, which already allowed beer making, added wine. Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri enacted laws allowing home brewers to transport their creations to exhibitions, tastings and competitions.
Serving and Selling Hours
Maine now permits the sales and delivery of alcohol to start an hour earlier, at 5 a.m., on most days. The new law also exempts St. Patrick's Day from the state's prohibition on Sunday morning sales. When the holiday falls on a Sunday, bars can start serving at 6 a.m. Of the more than 60 proposals involving operating hours around the states, at least 15 were enacted. Kentucky now allows bars and liquor stores to sell all day on election days. Rhode Island lengthened the hours certain liquor stores can be open, and New Hampshire lengthened the hours bars can serve, from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week, if local ordinances allow it.
Montana has joined the 38 other states and Washington, D.C., that permit wine producers to ship directly to consumers. Montana's shipment limit is 18 nine-liter cases of table wine annually. Although Arkansas does not allow direct shipments, winery visitors can send home one case per calendar quarter.
Samples and Tastings
Among the 23 bills enacted this year, West Virginia authorized farm wineries to sell samples and bottles during fairs and festivals on Sunday mornings. …