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CGVT 09-21-2012 02:26 AM

ABC agents raid Birmingham beer and wine store, take homebrewing equipment
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012, 7:39 PM Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012, 7:39 PM
By Madison Underwood | al.com



Agents from the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board raided this Hop City location Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, and took $7,000 worth of homebrewing equipment, owner Kraig Torres says. (Madison Underwood | al.com)
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The owner of a small beer, wine, and homebrewing supply chain says three agents from the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board raided his unopened store late Thursday afternoon and took $7,000 worth of home beer brewing supplies, including boxes of beer brewing kits, carboys, immersion chillers, and books about brewing.
Kraig Torres, the owner of Hop City Craft Beer & Wine, said the raid delayed a planned soft opening of the 5,500 square-foot Birmingham store scheduled for Friday.
"It's going to be delayed until Tuesday next week at the earlier," Torres said. "I'm being held hostage by the ABC board."
"They've come into my store with three armed men and threatened to arrest my general manager on the grounds that we have supplies in the store that can be used to make beer."
The agents took the equipment used to brew beer, but Torres said they left the ingredients used in beer brewing -- grain, hops, and yeast -- in the store.
"They said they'll be back at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning and everything had to be -- everything, every pellet of hops, every kernel of grain -- had to be out of the store before they'd be willing to consider our license," Torres said. He said he now plans to get those ingredients out of his unopened store, which is located on 2nd Avenue South near Pepper Place, and take them back to his other location in Atlanta Thursday night.
Torres said he did "a very large amount of due diligence" before purchasing the homebrewing equipment to sell in his store. He said he doesn't believe that it is illegal to sell homebrewing equipment, although it is illegal to brew beer at home in Alabama.
"We were compliant prior to their entering the store," Torres said.
"We're completely at the mercy of the ABC board at this point," Torres said.
When the store does open, it might be in a reduced capacity. "It's safe to say that until we can resolve this matter legally, we will be a beer and wine only store," Torres said.
"I'm beyond upset about it."
Attempts to reach ABC Board representatives by e-mail and phone were not returned Thursday evening.

wSelwyn 09-21-2012 02:31 AM

So... uhh... yeah. Screw them. Glad I live in Michigan. If there's any way to help their cause, let us know.
I recently joined the AHA to help support causes like yours in your state. The least I could do, but yeah...

This is crazy. I'm sure we'll hear more in the upcoming days.

passedpawn 09-21-2012 02:32 AM

Anyone incensed should join the AHA. Otherwise QFT.


lumpher 09-21-2012 02:46 AM

i was offered a transfer to alabama 2 years ago. involved a promotion and a payraise (not much of either). my main argument? nope, can't legally brew there. was in the master's program in auburn, and enough said...

xmacro 09-21-2012 02:57 AM

Your tax dollars at work. Gotta love how the State knows more than you do about what's best

shelly_belly 09-21-2012 04:04 AM

That's crazy. Alabrew HBS in Birmingham has been open for... well I don't know how long, and I've bought brewing equipment and ingredients from Pearly Gates in Huntsville since the late 70's. I wonder why they have an agenda for Hop City?

KBentley57 09-21-2012 04:11 AM

For anyone else who is interested, there is an article on al.com about it. Read through the user comments, everyone seems very supportive of the store.

wilserbrewer 09-21-2012 04:17 AM

So I'm asssuming it's illegal to sell stock pots and buckets in Alabama...well..."We all love the Governor, boo boo boo! We all did what we could do"...I guess we need to try harder, a real shame, I'm sorry, ashamed this is happening in my country.

Tantalus 09-21-2012 04:29 AM

Alabama's anti-homebrewing laws just don't make any goddamn sense. It's not like they ban the consumption of alcohol in the state.

Sorry to anyone who has the misfortune to live in the wrong part of Dixie.

KBentley57 09-21-2012 04:34 AM

It's a backwards law for sure. I can buy a bucket, no problem. I can buy a 5 gallon pot, no problem. I can buy any type of grain I want, juice, ect. No problem. I can buy hose, spoons, ect, no problem. I can buy beer that's already made! No problem. I wonder at what distance a yeast cell must be from the must before it becomes illegal. It's all a money run, or backasswards religous nuttery.

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