New TN beer law opens business opportunities, but drinkers beware

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A new Tennessee law will allow bars and stores to import more beers in to the state and allow local breweries to brew a bigger selection of beers.

“You have to have a liquor license to carry above 6.2 percent beer. This is going to open that up by raising the level from 6.2 to 10.1," said Andy Ashby, co-owner of Memphis Made Brewing Company.

Ashby said the change would help businesses and consumers.

“In Mississippi and Alabama, the level of beer alcohol content is higher. It’s held back local breweries and also breweries from out of state looking to distribute in the Memphis market. It’s going to allow us to brew more styles of beer," Ashby said.

"I think it’s absolutely fantastic," said David Smith of Hammer and Ale on Cooper Street. "It’s going to open up a broad spectrum of beers now available.”

Currently, Hammer and Ale has about 30 craft beers to choose from. With the change in the law, that number will increase to about 300, Smith said.

But at his establishment, where people can stay or take out, owners said customers will have to be careful.

“It’s going to take training people on being a little more responsible. To be honest, drinking a couple 8 percent beers makes a big difference to people in their level of inebriation,” managing partner Kevin Eble said.

“We’re going to have a smaller glass for some of those heavier beers. That’ll kind of help to pace people,” Smith said.

The law goes into effect January 1.