In Alabama, where home brewing as well as high-alcohol beers are illegal, a beer battle is brewing (registration required) between Free the Hops, a vocal contingent of beer aficionados, and the Southern Baptists. Free the Hops wants the Alabama state legislature to legalize home brewing and permit sales of beer with an alcohol content of up to 13.9 percent by volume. Southern Baptists say that high-alcohol beer will make it easier for teens to get drunk and that abusing alcohol “inhibits communion with God.”
The beer advocates note that dark, bitter, complex, and expensive barley wines and stouts don’t really appeal to teens. “To prove his point, [Free the Hops president Stuart] Carter has been known to offer lawmakers an illicit taste of a Yeti Russian Imperial Stout, with 9.5% alcohol content,” writes the Los Angeles Times. “‘The first taste you get is the bitterness. Then you taste coffee. Then dark chocolate. Then caramel, with a hint of plums or raisins. The aftertaste is pancake syrup,’ Carter says. ‘You give it to these legislators and the look on their face is priceless.’”
But while the forces of beer connoisseurship may be making headway in the Alabama legislature, in Missouri, the state legislature is in danger of taking a big step backward, taste-wise. There’s a movement afoot to make Budweiser the official state beer.