Georgia Beer – More Alcohol 14%

Georgia Beer Lovers to Get More Alcohol

Microbrews and International Concoctions to be Offered Along with
Usual Lightweights

Story last updated at 6:55 a.m. Monday, June 21, 2004

Associated Press

ATLANTA–Beer in Georgia is about to get more kick.

The raising of the maximum beer-alcohol content from 6 percent to 14
percent means a new wave of microbrews and international beers will soon
be for sale in the state, giving Georgians options beyond their usual
lightweight brews.

“Beer has gotten a bad rap because of what we’ve been forced to drink
the last 40 to 50 years,” said Glen Sprouse, brewmaster at Five Seasons
Brewing in Atlanta. “Maybe you haven’t had a good beer before.”

In a move supporters billed as a way to promote tourism, lawmakers
passed a measure taking effect July 1 to make Georgia the nation’s 42nd
state to allow a higher beer-alcohol content. Of the holdouts that still
limit beer strength, half are in the South: Alabama, Arkansas, North
Carolina and South Carolina.

Georgia’s beer lovers are delighted.

“The beers we really liked weren’t available because of this law,”
said Ted Hull, a founding member of a group called Georgians for World
Class Beer, which has pushed for reform since 1997. “We’re very excited
about it. It’s been kind of a long road to get to this point.”

Breweries are anticipating the influx of beers by holding tastings and
parties.

Beers that will become available include homemade concoctions, those
brewed by Trappist monks in Belgium and Indian pale ales.

The proposal to raise the beer-alcohol limit met resistance each of
the last few years in the state Legislature. Some politicians were
concerned teenagers would seek out beers with higher alcohol limits and
people would get drunk faster and endanger roadways.

“The biggest concerns were adding to the number of DUIs and accidents
related to alcohol that may kill somebody,” said Rep. Craig Brock,
R-Chatsworth, who voted against the bill. “It’s been a hot issue.”

But gourmet beer supporters say people don’t drink these kinds of
beverages to get drunk. They said these beers are more like sipping a
fine wine or enjoying a piece of premium chocolate.

No one put up significant opposition to the legislation this year, not
even Mothers Against Drunk Driving. At the same time, beer drinkers
enlisted a few state representatives to help them and hired a lobbyist to
persuade others.

“These beers have a very strong taste. It’s an acquired taste,” said
Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, D-Decatur. “It appeals to a different
kind of market.”

To beer drinkers, the higher alcohol content won’t be the appeal.
They’ll be drawn more to the wider variety of flavors available from
stronger beers, Strouse said.

These beers have more aromatic, bitter and fruit-like tastes. Their
alcohol contents range from just over 6 percent for Sierra Nevada to 10.2
percent for a beer like the trippel made by the Trappists.

They cost a few dollars more than regular beers because they’re more
expensive to brew. That could also make them unappealing to people just
looking to get drunk, said Hull, a civil engineer and home brewer.

With the new law, the brewmaster for Athens-based Terrapin Beer
Company, Brian Buckowski, is looking forward to making a mixture he calls
the Big Hoppy Monster, a red ale with a taste of caramel and a citrus
aroma with a 7.5 percent alcohol content.

“It opens a lot of doors to different styles of beers,” Buckowski
said.

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