City Council has public reading on brewpub ordinance
by Laura Gaddy
Dec 10, 2013 | 3349 views |  0 comments | 97 97 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSONVILLE — The Jacksonville City Council on Monday held a public reading of an ordinance that would allow a resident to open a brewpub on the Public Square.

The reading is required before the council can vote on the measure, which would exclude brewpubs from a city code that says bars must be more than 500 feet from each other.

“I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen,” said Joe Donahue, who plans to open the brewpub on the Public Square. “I’m glad we got a first reading, and I think that is a good step in the right direction.”

Brewpubs are establishments that serve beer brewed on-site, usually with an emphasis on craftsmanship and flavor.

The council began considering the change more than a month ago at Donahue’s request. The current code would prevent him from opening his establishment because the site he has in mind is within 500 feet of Pelham’s Bar.

The council was poised to take steps to move the proposed ordinance along at an earlier meeting, but postponed the reading over concerns that brewpubs might also sell beer made in large, commercial breweries.

To be sure any brewpubs that open in Jacksonville don’t operate like bars, they added a clause in the city ordinance that prohibits brewpubs from selling anything other that craft beer.

“I think it addressed some current concerns and some legitimate concerns that some other council members have,” Council Chairman Mark Jones said.

Donahue told officials he plans to sell only his and other craft beers at his establishment.

With Monday’s reading and the support already expressed from the community, Donahue said he’s hopeful the council will approve the measure during its next meeting.

Though defined as a bar in legal terms, brewpubs differ from traditional bars because they sell a one-of-a kind product that people will travel to taste, said Dan Roberts, director of Alabama’s Brewers Guild, a state trade association for craft brewers.

“There is a growing beer demographic in Alabama,” Roberts said. “Brewpubs appeal to that.”

Roberts said there are currently just 5 brewpubs in the state of Alabama, including Cheaha Brewing Company in Anniston.

State law governs them and city code can more narrowly define what they’re allowed to do in a community.

“There is a lot of difference between cities,” Roberts said.

Statewide, would-be brewpub owners face several restrictions. Owners must prove that beer was brewed in their county for public consumption before prohibition, Roberts said.

Also, brewpubs can’t make more than 10,000 barrels of beer per year, and they must prove that they are trying to open in a historic district or in an economically depressed area.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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