The alcohol industry is famously anti-competitive. It has numerous regulations that make it difficult for new companies to start up, and that keep the big producers on top. Readers may recall PLF’s challenge to a Florida law that outright banned the standard size craft brew container—called a growler—allegedly to curb drinking. That rationale was undercut by the fact that one large growler, or two small growlers, were considered perfectly fine. The real concern was that a standard size growler contains as much beer as a six pack, and the manufacturers were worried that the availability of growlers would create new competition from craft breweries. Thanks in part to PLF’s lawsuit, the Florida legislature repealed the irrational ban.
Thanks to several recent legislative changes like Florida’s, craft breweries have begun to thrive, offering interesting new concoctions (coffee beer, anybody?) and ingenious new names (they never miss a hop-portunity for a pun). But anti-competitive laws remain on the books, and today PLF commented on a proposed anti-competitive rule in Alabama.
That rule would require craft breweries to collect and safeguard the name, address, phone number and date of birth of anyone who purchases craft beer for carryout. It’s an obvious disincentive to buyers, and a “logistical nightmare” for the brewers. Like many other laws passed under the guise of public safety, the proposed rule is likely just another attempt to protect the big beer manufacturers from competition.
We’ll be following the proposed rule to see if Alabama follows through, or if it instead chooses to provide economic opportunity for entrepreneurial craft brewers.
You can read another comment letter we recently filed regarding an anti-competitive law in the wine industry here.