KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – A new law goes into effect on January 1, which will allow beer and cider brewers in Tennessee to begin making brew with a stronger alcohol content. Currently the limit is 6.2%, but the new law raises it to 10.1%.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this. It started over two years ago, the push forward to allow us to do this and it’s going to open up a lot of doors for us,” Brian Connatser, the owner of Sleepy Owl Brewery in Kingsport, said.
Currently, a person can purchase high-gravity beer, which is beer with a higher alcohol content, but it has to be made out of state. Connatser said that being able to make higher gravity beer will even out the playing field.
“It lets us be more competitive with beers that are coming in the state being poured, rather than tax revenue dollars going out of the state,” Connatser explained.
Beer isn’t the only thing that will be changing, craft cideries will be able to serve high-gravity cider. Aaron Carson, the owner of the Gypsy Cider Company said that this will allow him to get creative with the cider he creates.
“It’s like a chef, if you put handcuffs on somebody about what they can make you can still make great things, but if you have the right ingredients and the right things you can really expand what you can do,” Carson said.
Local brewers said the main benefit of this new law is that people will have a local high-gravity option, instead of being forced to spend money out of state.
“What’s going to happen January 1, you’re going to see a flood of amazing beers coming out and ciders and instead of having to go get a North Carolina beer you can get them right here and that’s pretty cool,” Carson said.