Local draft sales bill passes Alabama House

Published 9:57 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Draft beer is one step closer to being on tap in Selma and Dallas County after the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill May 14 that would allow the sale of draft and keg beer in Dallas County.

The bill came about after a group of people got the idea of bringing a brewery to Selma to help the newly created entertainment district thrive and help with the revitalization of downtown Selma.

“A bunch of guys from the Arsenal Accelerator and a few other folks have been working on this, so in order to do that we figured we needed to work on getting that law changed,” said Clay Carmichael with the Blackbelt Benefit Group.

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The bill was introduced May 7, just five months after the Selma City Council unanimously voted for a resolution to ask local legislators, Rep. Melton and Sen. Hank Sanders, to pass legislation that would change the draft beer law in Dallas County.

“I think it is something that could definitely help our area. I think the timing of it is great,” Melton said. “I just think we need to be more progressive in developing and moving forward.”

Melton said there would be many benefits to passing the sale of draft beer for Dallas County.

“It would benefit us to continue to develop the entertainment district, and it would also allow for us to have some economic development, which would create more jobs in that area,” Melton said. “I’m not saying overnight that we’ll just have a plethora of jobs, but I hope that will expand once we initiate the process.”

If passed, Carmichael thinks it won’t just have a positive impact on the entertainment district. It will also help local businesses and consumers.

“It is cheaper on the consumer for one thing,” Carmichael said. “For another thing, it’s cheaper on the retailer. A bar can buy a keg of the same volume for a lot cheaper than they could in bottles or cans, and therefore they can turn around and sell it for cheaper and make a higher profit margin off of it.”

The sell of draft beer and the brewing of craft beer is on the rise, and Melton believes the time is right to get into the mix.

“We’re already playing catch up, so I think this is our opportunity. The market is growing,” Melton said.

“The last I read, there is around a 30 percent market that is available right now. If we go ahead and get started, we can make our boot print and hopefully we can gain some of that market share.”

The bill is currently in the Alabama Senate, where it was read for the first time and referred to the Senate Committee on Local Legislation.

Melton said the bill passed the house without a hiccup, and he hopes it will be the same way with the Senate.

“Draft beer is also a big economic engine that is growing throughout the United States, and I think it is good that we get in on the front end of this economic development opportunity,” Melton said.

Sanders could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.