Local News

Proposed Bill Would Raise Alcohol Content In Beer

Posted April 29, 2005 6:38 a.m. EDT

— A proposed bill in the North Carolina General Assembly that would raise the amount of alcohol in beer is drawing reaction from people on both sides of the issue.

The bill, which is gaining support in the Legislature, would raise the alcohol content cap on beer from 6 to 15 percent.

Bar owners say it would enable them to offer specialty beers.

"Triangle here -- especially the Cary area -- is a lot of people from out of the area who are used to getting certain products from where they are from," general manager of Carolina Ale House Jim Aroner said. "It would be nice to offer them here."

Opponents fear stronger beer will attract younger drinkers, especially since the law would require all higher-content beer to be labeled.

"This is what they want," said Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League. "They want these beers of high alcohol content, because you get smashed faster. And that's what they want to do."

Opponents also say it goes beyond specialty beers. They believe lifting the cap would open the door to stronger malt liquor products and lead to neighborhood blight.

"These potent malt liquors are targeted for Hispanic and black youth," Creech said. "They're largely the drink of the unemployed and the homeless."

Despite argument against the bill, it passed a committee this week. The full House will vote early next week.

North Carolina is one of only a few states that limit the alcohol content in beer to under six percent. The cap dates back to 1935, when North Carolina lifted prohibition. Mill owners were concerned workers would not show up on Mondays if they had access to stronger beers.