West Virginia’s craft beer laws are one step closer to being loosened after the House of Delegates cleared a bill Thursday calling for various changes.
Craft brewers in the state would be able to make beer at a higher alcohol percentage under the bill. According to Senate Bill 529, the alcohol by volume limit for craft beer would increase from 12 percent to 15 percent.
The bill would allow breweries to provide one ounce samples to customers. Breweries in the state would also be allowed to apply for and receive a special one-day permit to sell beer as part of a charitable event.
Senate Bill 529 also clarifies that alcohol sales license holders can sell up to 128 ounces of beer for off-premise consumption in growlers and other similar containers, with no limit on the amount of those containers sold to a customer per day. The measure would allow for grocery stores licensed to sell beer to create a curbside pickup of those items purchased on the internet.
Del. Tom Fast, R-Fayette, spoke in opposition to the proposal.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we're on the run again for more booze bills and I don't find that very amusing,” Fast said.
Fast went down the bill’s many provisions and argued that the legislation would increase the possibilities of young people getting alcohol poisoning.
“We as a Legislature have done so much to advance the cause of alcohol and it just continues expeditiously. So let's draw the line here,” Fast said.
Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, said he agreed with many of Fast’s concerns, but ultimately spoke in favor of the bill.
“I do not drink. I do not choose to drink. I don't really like to be around it. I don't condone it. I don't recommend anybody in here have a drink. I believe it’s poison,” Pushkin said. “However, I would support the bill and to answer the questions -- so many questions -- that were asked of why we're doing this. I'll give you a one word answer and that's ‘freedom.’”
Senate Bill 529 passed the House of Delegates on an 84-16 vote.
With the House of Delegates adopting an amendment to the bill Wednesday, the measure now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.