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October 30, 2012

City finalizes alcohol ordinance tweaks

Craft beer approved, brew pub requirements lowered

Cullman officials have now finalized some minor changes to the alcohol control ordinance, which are officially in effect.

After clarifying some definitions earlier this year, these latest changes are the first that locals might actually notice.

“These were just some different things that needed to be clarified, some points in the ordinance,” city clerk and alcohol review committee member Wes Moore said. “Typically what we’re doing at this point is just clarifying some definitions and things like that.”

The more contentious aspects of the ordinance — i.e. distance requirements for where alcohol can be sold, etc. — remain intact, though the ordinance now allows for the sale of large bottles of craft beer. Larger bottles of craft beer have become a popular item in recent months, though the council’s original ordinance did not account for the single-bottle beers that are more akin to a bottle of wine.

The council added a new definition for “Single Consumption Container,” after the surge of large-bottled gourmet beer caused some confusion as to what exactly is allowed. Single-bottle sales remain illegal under the ordinance, though a new definition defines a single-consumption container of beer as 16 ounces or less, and a container of wine as 6 ounces or less.

Essentially: the clarification makes it legal to sell larger bottles of beer.

Another change comes in the brew pub section, which until now had required any potential micro-brewery restaurant to produce at least 240 barrels of alcohol per year. City officials opted to cut that requirement to 120 barrels, noting the previous level set the standard too high for any small brew pubs to succeed.

Potential brew pubs must still follow established restaurant guidelines and the restaurant must occupy at least 51 percent of the floor space.

To date the council has received and approved one brew pub license request, though the business has yet to open.

A section governing off-premise sales was also adjusted, clarifying that it is a violation to sell alcoholic beverages in any container different than the package it was purchased in from the wholesaler. Sales of 4, 6, 12 and 18-packs, as provided from a wholesaler, are allowed.

A new section to defer to state code in any instance of conflict was also added, in an effort to bring the local ordinance in closer harmony with state laws that already govern alcohol sales. The new passage states:

“This Ordinance shall be deemed cumulative with and supplemental to any and all statutes of the State of Alabama regarding the subject matter hereof and to be subordinate to same and in no manner intended to supersede any such statues of the State of Alabama.”

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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