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1 month ago

A perfect day to celebrate Alabama’s beer history

Today, beer lovers across the country are celebrating the 85th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which made alcohol legal again. It’s a historic day for our state and nation, marking the end of the 13-year alcohol drought known as Prohibition. Now, that’s something to toast.

It’s tough to imagine Alabama without our thriving beer scene. No matter the occasion, consumers here can find a variety of adult beverage brands, flavors, and profiles at the tip of their fingers. But we rarely take the time to reflect on the rich history of beer and how our nation came to enjoy a beer as America’s most preferred adult beverage.

That is why December 5 is an important reminder for all Americans to say cheers to the forward-thinking lawmakers and leaders who put in place the timelessly effective state-based alcohol structure that continues to bolster the beer industry in Alabama and across our great nation today.

It was not always so. Leading up to Prohibition, marketplace abuses of alcohol were rampant and communities came together nationwide to protest the unregulated sale and consumption of alcohol, ultimately leading to the passage of the 18th Amendment that banned alcohol altogether across the country. Prohibition, the “Noble Experiment,” was an effort to reduce the chaos and misfortune many Americans felt at the time.

But, from 1920-1933, things actually got worse. Illegally-produced liquor poisoned consumers, causing blindness, paralysis and even death. People began drinking more heavily and consuming liquor of higher alcohol contents when they could. Corruption became widespread and formerly law-abiding citizens began breaking the law. Ultimately, Prohibition as a one-size-fits-all solution was a total failure. And, as lawmakers repealed the 18th Amendment with the 21st, they implemented a new system they hoped would prevent the problems preceding Prohibition, while also promoting entrepreneurship, consumer choice, competition and public safety.

The lawmakers’ insistence on different state models would pay tremendous dividends for today’s modern distribution system. Our evolving alcohol market continues to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and sale of beverage alcohol – fostering competition in the market and promoting fair enterprise at each level of the supply chain.

Today, beer entrepreneurs, our craft brewers and our favorite old-time classics can all rely on the efficiency of this industry to reach new markets, and consumers can expect a vast selection of brands. It’s why we’ve seen the number of breweries skyrocket nationally from 49 breweries in the 1980’s to nearly 7,000 today. Alabama alone is home to more than 40 of these establishments. It’s true that the growth and confidence we’ve seen would not exist without the 21st Amendment.

The expansion of beer has also led to significant economic gains. Here in Alabama, beer distributors are responsible for more than 2,400 jobs, provide more than $173 million in wages and benefits to employees, and pay over $198 million in state and local taxes. This incredible economic contribution is all because of a critical, yet little-known member of the beer industry – America’s independent beer distributors.

Very few people understand the significance of beer distributors. Across Alabama, 39 independent beer distributors work closely with brewers, big and small, and retailers to keep the beer shelves stocked and bar taps filled with your favorite brews. These businesses have their finger on the pulse of local consumers’ interests and constantly introduce new beers to new markets.

They have invested in the necessary resources, like state-of-the-art warehouses to store beer and temperature-controlled trucks to transport it, both innovations that allow brewers to thrive. Beer distributors also level the playing field for smaller, craft brewers by giving them fair access to the market riding on the same trucks as the bigger players.

What’s more is how critical beer distributors are to every local economy across America. They are stewards of their communities, and here in Alabama, they also contribute millions to our neighborhoods through charities, local events, and economic development.

So, as we celebrate the anniversary of the 21st Amendment rolling back Prohibition, we toast the historical roots of beer and the significant contributions of our local beer distributors with the same toast President Roosevelt delivered on this day 85 years ago: “What America needs now is a drink.”

Michael Schilleci is the president of Supreme Beverage Company, Inc., a third-generation beer wholesaler in Birmingham, Ala, and is the National Beer Wholesalers Association chairman of the board. 

8 hours ago

Aderholt named ranking member of appropriations subcommittee critical to north Alabama’s economy

On Tuesday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was named ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, which funds NASA and the FBI, amongst other important economic engines.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “It is a great honor to be named the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. This subcommittee is certainly important to America, but even more so for North Alabama.”

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“This subcommittee is directly responsible for funding NASA and the FBI, along with the Department of Commerce,” Aderholt explained. “The FBI and NASA are two very important agencies to the economy of not only Huntsville, but also the northern portion of our state. NASA, of course, has a long history in this region and gave rise to Huntsville’s name as the Rocket City. And in just the past few years, the FBI has built a presence on Redstone Arsenal and is in the process of growing to a level of approximately 4,000 jobs.”

The congressman concluded, “With my leadership on this subcommittee, I will work to ensure that North Alabama continues to lead as we return to the moon, put boots on Mars and travel into deep space. And with the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, and growing footprint in North Alabama, I will also be a voice to let my colleagues know that North Alabama is in a prime position to be a hub for matters concerning our national security.”

Aderholt also serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Is Doug Jones a foot soldier in the Democrat Civil War for taking a shot at liberal darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

If you are Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) right now, you probably know you have almost no chance of being elected to a full term as a United State senator.

This obviously could change. Roy Moore could continue to crave the spotlight and enter a Republican primary field in 2020, but this is obviously a long-shot for him.

Complicating Jones’ life right now is a number of new Democratic members of the House of Representatives. They are outspoken, silly and contrary to the carefully crafted image Jones wants to sell to Alabama. Jones wants to be Mr. Moderate, a conservative-ish Democrat in the mold of former Congressman Bud Cramer (D-Huntsville), but he can’t do that if he is constantly dealing with a 24-hour news cycle where his fellow Democrats are acting nuts.

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Jones seems to know this, and the clearest way to distinguish himself from members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is to directly scold her to The Hill.

He said, “I think it skews what’s really there for the Democratic Party.”

Jones seems to want to differentiate himself from Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of non-stop Twitter trolling will endear her to the same media that can’t let a Trump tweet go without an analysis of its impact. But Jones didn’t stop there. He also thinks this style of bomb-throwing is ineffective politics.

“When it gets time to get things done, that’s what people are going to be looking at — they’re going to be looking at the middle-of-the-roaders because it’s the only way to get anything done,” Jones stated.

If recent history is any judge, Ocasio-Cortez will not let these comments slide without a response. The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is on and Jones will likely find himself out-gunned and without many powerful allies.

In response to similar criticism from former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ocasio-Cortez responded with the following tweet:

Will Jones double-down or will he slink back to his backbench for fear of his party’s base if she hits back?

For now, Jones sounds like he thinks his voters want him to get stuff done, but considering that Jones’ main accomplishment at this point in his Senate career is his vote against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation it is likely most Alabama voters would prefer he enjoys his time in Washington D.C. as a spectator before being sent home in 2020.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

9 hours ago

Trump AG nominee: Sessions ‘probably did the right thing’ in recusing himself from Russia probe

Attorney General-nominee William Barr on Tuesday said Jeff Sessions “probably did the right thing” in recusing himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, according to The Washington Post.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991-1993. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was asked by committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe because he was involved in the Trump campaign.

“I am not sure of all of the facts, but I think he probably did the right thing recusing himself,” Barr said.

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This came the day after Sessions attended Alabama’s Inaugural Day festivities, including the swearing-in ceremony for all statewide elected officials and reception for state Attorney General Steve Marshall.

During Marshall’s event in the attorney general’s office building, Sessions said, “Do the right thing every day and usually things will work out… [well,] not always.”

After the laughter of the room started to subside, he added, “At least in the United States, when they fire you, they don’t shoot you like they do in some countries.”

Sessions’ relationship with President Donald Trump was eroded by the recusal and the president’s public attacks on both that decision and Sessions personally. He resigned at the request of the president in November.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

State Sen. Gerald Allen responds to judge striking down Alabama Memorial Preservation Act — ‘Judges are not kings’

On Tuesday afternoon, State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, criticized Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Graffeo made the ruling Monday.

“Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly,” Allen said in a statement. “A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law.”

He continued, “Judge Graffeo has taken it upon himself to know and declare that it is ‘undisputed’ that the majority of residents of Birmingham are ‘repulsed’ by the Linn Park monument, and has thus ruled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act void. But judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process.”

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“The Memorial Preservation Act is meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations. The law was vigorously debated for months by the people of Alabama’s duly-elected representatives in the State Legislature, and passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate,” Allen advised.

He concluded, “The Attorney General’s Office is confident that the Memorial Preservation Act is constitutional, and I look forward to the Attorney General’s appeal of Judge Graffeo’s ruling.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

Judge voids Alabama law protecting Confederate monuments

A judge has overturned an Alabama law meant to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, ruling the act infringed on the rights of citizens in a mostly black city who are “repulsed” by the memorial.

The 10-page ruling issued late Monday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo said a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments wrongly violated the free speech rights of local communities.

The law cannot be enforced, Graffeo ruled, but the state could still appeal.

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The attorney general’s comment had no immediate response to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The state sued the city of Birmingham after officials tried to remove a 52-foot-tall (16-meter)-tall obelisk that was erected to honor Confederate veterans in a downtown park in 1905.

Rather than toppling the stone marker, the city built a 12-foot (3.6-meter)-tall wooden box around it.

Birmingham’s population of 210,000 is more than 70 percent black, and the judge said it was indisputable that most citizens are “repulsed” by the memorial.

He rejected the state’s claims that lawmakers had the power to protect historical monuments statewide.

The law includes a $25,000 penalty for removing or altering a historical monument, but the judge said the penalty was unconstitutional.

The city has not had to pay while the lawsuit worked its way through court.

The ruling came hours after the inauguration of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who signed the law and opened her campaign last year with a commercial that prominently showed Confederate monuments.

“We can’t change or erase our history, but here in Alabama we know something that Washington doesn’t. To get where we are going means understanding where we have been,” Ivey said in the ad.

Supporters of the law contend it protects not just Confederate memorials but historical markers of any kind, but rebel memorials have been an issue nationwide since a white supremacist gunman killed nine worshippers in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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