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Plan for 3-ounce alcohol drink falls flat

Posted March 20, 2013

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— State regulators on Wednesday rejected a brewer's plans to sell 3-ounce vials of high-alcohol malt beverage in North Carolina, saying they feared it would entice teens to drink.

Stout Brewing wanted to sell its Stout 21 malt beverage in grocery and convenience stores in such flavors as Margarita, Screwdriver and Apple Pie. The company bills the product as a "Flavored Alcoholic Shooter."

Mike Herring, administrator for the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, noted that the 3-ounce can with the twist-off cap contains as much alcohol as a 12-ounce beer.

"In a matter of minutes, a person can gulp that container down and take one of these (four) packs and gulp it four times and have the equivalent of four, high-proof, 12-ounce beers," Herring told the ABC board. "You can just keep drinking these and drinking these, and the next thing you know, it's going to hit you, and you're not going to realize how much alcohol you've had."

Stout 21 would most likely appeal to underage drinkers, he said, because they could conceal the small container in a pocket or backpack. Also, the unusual packaging would make it harder for parents and law enforcement officers to recognize it as an alcoholic beverage, he said.

Mike Adams, an attorney for Stout Brewing, said the company wanted to make a safe and responsible product and designed the 3-ounce can to "stand out" so it could be marketed better to 21- to 35-year-olds.

There was never any intent to appeal to teens, Adams said, adding that the smaller beverage is for consumers who don't want "to be filled up."

"It allows the consumer to very appropriately regulate the quantity of alcohol they consume," he said.

Stout 21 can Regulators say small vial encourages youths to drink

Adams complained that ABC regulations don't spell out rules for the size and shape of containers, adding that Stout Brewing has already purchased the equipment to make the 3-ounce can at its Kings Mountain brewery.

The $2.1 million brewery opened last year and employs 32 people in an area with a 10.6 percent unemployment rate.

Commissioners weren't swayed, however, voting unanimously against Stout 21.

"This vial you're trying to approve is less than half the size of anything we've ever approved with that content of alcohol," Commissioner Joel Keith said.

ABC Chairman Jim Gardner, a former lieutenant governor, said he worries about his three young granddaughters.

"I'm very much concerned about the underage drinking problems in our state," Gardner said. "We're going to do everything we can possibly can – in the area of underage drinking, to do what we possibly can – to turn the tide somehow."

Stout Brewing owner Cody Sommer was disappointed with the decision and said his management team would have to reassess the situation.

"We still feel correct that our product is not marketed to underage drinkers, and we still feel that way and that's how we're going to move forward," Sommer said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Scooby246 Mar 22, 10:25 a.m.

    " encouraging fast consumption to youth with sweet favors "
    Haha.......I meant to write sweet FLAVORS. Sweet favors to youth would be a whole other issue. ;)

  • ginufine3011 Mar 22, 9:21 a.m.

    Oh so the ”underage” kids aren't enticed to drinking now?? These kids are buying/getting, whatever is being sold in convenient stores now...Kids were already enticed, with the past superbowl commercials, advertising beer for several minutes at a time. And so, what these lawmakers are saying is, they are trying to prevent a crime if ”underage drinking”, before it occurs?! What about the CASES of 12 and 24 packs of beer, sold in convenient stores?!...That is  and encouraging, isn't it? And if the lawmakers don't want kids to be enticed by alcohol, why is alcohol being sold in convenient stores, where ”underage” kids frequent?! Alcohol should only be sold in an 21 to enter only store. That in itself, will regulate the easy access, and be less enticing to ”underage” drinkers to alcohol content.

  • Scooby246 Mar 22, 9:11 a.m.

    Some of you are very naive to think that there's nothing that can be done to reduce underage drinking or that the responsibility lies only with parents. I agree that we'll never completely eliminate underage drinking but strong parenting AND education AND stores that card AND not allowing dangerous products that are clearly encouraging fast consumption to youth with sweet favors AND many other things can make a difference. That difference could be precious lives. Good call ABC Commission.

  • CharmedLife Mar 21, 1:30 p.m.

    Kids are going to drink no matter what the law states, and parents can't watch their kids 24/7. All we can do as parents is teach them right from wrong and hope n pray they make the right choice.

    I do agree that they could change the packaging and make it more noticeable that it's an alcoholic drink.

  • Jimmytwotimes Mar 21, 11:40 a.m.

    There was never any intent to appeal to teens, Adams said, adding that the smaller beverage is for consumers who don't want "to be filled up."

    Right. It's for people who want to get hammered fast, without the extras like juice or soda.

    Heck yeah! thank god for alcohol.....and baby jesus too!

  • working for deadbeats Mar 21, 11:09 a.m.

    Sure..it's just a coincidence that it looks like an energy drink. Good call on this one!

  • Killian Mar 21, 10:33 a.m.

    There was never any intent to appeal to teens, Adams said, adding that the smaller beverage is for consumers who don't want "to be filled up."

    Right. It's for people who want to get hammered fast, without the extras like juice or soda.

  • Rebelyell55 Mar 21, 10:18 a.m.

    I think someone hit the nail on the head, if they've market it to ABC stores, they would been Ok.

  • jjsmith1973 Mar 21, 10:03 a.m.

    So, let me get this straight freedom of the market is fine to certain political social circle unless it comes to this? hmmmm. Interesting

  • MichaelOps Mar 21, 9:37 a.m.

    Before I had a 14 year old I would say,"lighten up people." However, seeing how even energy drinks cater their products to this age group, and even smokeless tobacco, I have to stand up and say "bravo" for prohibiting this. This product glorifies drinking in a phallic manor.