The General Assembly is continuing to expand the availability and types of alcohol sold in Kentucky. Senate Bill 83, passed in May of 2014, makes it legal for microbreweries in the Commonwealth to now produce some types of alcoholic or “hard” ciders. The law will also permit the sale of certain hard ciders in a wider variety of stores.
Specifically, SB 83 acted to define ciders which contain less than 7% alcohol by volume (ABV) as “weak ciders” — a new classification under Kentucky law. In addition, SB 83 amended the law in order to treat “weak ciders” essentially the same as malt beverages or beer.
The 7% ABV figure was not pulled out of thin air. In fact, although typically distributed and marketed as a beer product, the federal government and most states tax and regulate ciders as a type of wine. By creating a new category of ciders containing less than 7% ABV, however, SB 83 effectively placed “weak ciders” into the same category as malt beverages, like beer. This will have huge implications regarding the availability of “weak ciders” in the Commonwealth.
Indeed, the subject of liquor, wine, and malt beverage retail availability has been the topic of recent litigation in Kentucky. As the law currently stands, gas stations and grocery stores are generally prohibited from selling wine and liquor — but they are permitted to sell beer. Thus, before the passage of SB 83, you could not purchase a hard cider in those types of locations. However, since SB 83 acts to treat “weak ciders” the same as malt beverages, hard ciders are now available for retail purchase in gas stations, grocery stores, liquor stores, and drug stores alike. This greatly expands the availability of hard ciders; and it should be a boon to manufacturers, microbrewers, distributors, and retailers. News outlets have already begun reporting that local microbrewers and apple orchard farmers are reaping the benefits of this creative new law.
In sum, SB 83 is just another example of how the General Assembly is modernizing its archaic alcohol statutes and expanding product availability within the Commonwealth.Back to news