The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board expects to change a proposed requirement that breweries and brew pubs record the names and other personal information of customers who buy beer to take home.
The ABC Board discussed the proposed rule at a work session today and could vote on the rule at its meeting on Sept. 28.
The Legislature passed a bill this year to allow breweries and brew pubs to sell beer for off-premises consumption for the first time.
The new law limits those beer sales to a case, 288 ounces, per customer, per day.
The proposed regulation, part of the rule-making process triggered by the new law, would require breweries and brew pubs to record the names, addresses, phone numbers and birth dates of customers who buy beer for off-premises consumption.
The breweries would have to report that information to the ABC board every month.
Free the Hops, a group that has successfully advocated to repeal Alabama restrictions on beer, has called the proposed rule an overreach and an intrusion into privacy.
The Alabama Brewers Guild also has expressed opposition to the rule, saying there are less intrusive ways to enforce the 288-ounce daily limit. The guild includes 22 Alabama breweries and four brew pubs.
At today's meeting, ABC Board Chairman Bubba Lee and Board Member Michael Ingram questioned the ABC staff about the proposed rule and discussed comments received from the public since the rule was proposed.
The rule applies to Alabama wineries and distilleries, as well as beer-makers.
Lee said after the work session he expects the rule to be changed to require that the sellers record the names and addresses of the customers who buy products to take home, but not their phone numbers and birth dates.
Lee said the requirement to record the names and addresses of buyers is part of the state law and not subject to the board's discretion.
Dan Roberts, executive director of the Alabama Brewers Guild, said he disagrees with the ABC Board's interpretation of the law and does not think breweries are required under the law to record the names and addresses of customers who buy for off-premises consumption.
Roberts said the intent of the law and the letter of the law can be met by the brewers keeping records of sales for on-premises and off-premises consumption without recording buyers' names.
Roberts said the law is ambiguous, however.
ABC officials said the requirement to record the names of buyers is to ensure that required taxes are paid in the same way as when the manufacturers, the breweries, sell to wholesalers, rather than directly to a consumer.
ABC Board spokesman Dean Argo said the staff would recommend changing the proposed rule to remove the requirement that the breweries, wineries and distilleries report the personal information of buyers to the ABC Board.
Instead, the proposed regulation will say the sellers will retain the names and addresses for their records, which are subject to ABC audits, Argo said.
Nick Hudson, president of Free the Hops, said there is no justification for a requirement to collect customers' names.
Hudson said Alabama wineries have been able to sell to customers for off-premises consumption for years without any such requirement.
"If I purchase liquor from an ABC store and hand them $20 cash, they don't take my name," Hudson said.
Hudson said Free the Hops would continue to oppose the rule.
Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, who sponsored the bill to allow breweries to make off-premises sales, said he appreciates that the board is considering modifying the rule but still believes it puts an unnecessary burden on small businesses and raises privacy concerns for consumers.
"To me it seems that the Board is trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist," Daniels said in an email. "I would ask that they not address this issue at all unless there are reports of problems. I believe this is an undue burden for small businesses."Updated at 5:38 p.m. to add comments from Nick Hudson. Updated at 10:18 p.m. to add comment from Rep. Anthony Daniels.