The below guest posting was submitted to City Council Watchdog by Kevin from BrewerReviewer.com
The Naperville city council has been trying to determine what can be done regarding all of the liquor licenses in Naperville. One of the proposed items is the restriction of beer size. As a Zythologist (one who studies beer and beer making), I find the thought of craft vs. non-craft beer size restrictions as a bit of a strange argument. The issue is that there is no exact definition of a craft beer or a craft brewery. Typically this distinction is based upon how many barrels a brewer produces in a calendar year. According to the Brewer’s Association, a craft brewer is considered small (producing 6 million barrels of beer or less or approximately less than 3% of annual US sales of all beer). Additionally, the Brewer’s Association specifies that a craft brewer must also be independent and traditional. These are vague terms with the exception of the 6 million barrels of beer or less.
Now to put this all into perspective, this means that in order for a beer to be considered craft, it must come from a craft brewery. In order for the brewery to be considered craft, it must produce 186,000,000 gallons of beer or less per year. Samuel Adams is the most widely known craft brewery and they proudly embrace the title of being a craft brewer.
Naperville’s municipal code defines craft beer as being produced from a craft brewery that produces 2,000,000 barrels per year (62,000,000 gallons). The issue is that this forces Naperville to police the amount of beer produced each year by every brewery around the world.
Almost any brewery can be considered a craft brewery and almost any beer can be considered craft (given the proper attorney and proper interpretation). The problem is not craft vs. non-craft, but rather ABV (Alcohol by Volume). Since the council is going to police how much alcohol a citizen can consume from a single serving (similar to New York’s ban on large “Sodas”), they must take ABV into consideration. The typical spirit is 80 proof (or 40% ABV). The average beer ABV of the over 37,000 beers on my website (brewerreviewer.com) is 6.8% ABV. Since the council and staff are attempting to address how much is too much, perhaps they can narrow down the substitutions and exceptions based on ABV. If a beer is over a certain ABV, then here is how much that must be poured into a single glass and how much can be left in the bottle.
During the September 16, 2014 council meeting, councilman Paul Hinterlong and Detective Mark English hit the beer size restriction on the head…what’s the point? The restriction seems to only hurt some establishments and has no true benefit.
While Detective English makes the argument that a 12 oz beer has the same alcohol as a shot (1.5 oz) of hard liquor. Just as hard liquor varies in alcohol concentration (typical range between 40% to 75.5% ABV), beer also has a range from 0.1% to the Netherland’s Start the Future which weighs in at a whopping 60% ABV.
After the council is done and the rules are set in place, above all enjoy your beverage responsibly.