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Businesses that sell beer won a legislative battle last session by getting lawmakers to vote to cap the beer tax at 17 percent, and levy the tax based on the quantity of beer rather than its price.

The move benefits craft breweries which typically sell more expensive beer, according to the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild, by allowing their products to be taxed at the same rate as less expensive national brands.

Next on their agenda is a push to change the law that distinguishes what's considered 'high gravity' beer.

Currently, any beer that is more than 6.25 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) is considered high gravity, which in turn means it's taxed at a higher rate and restricted from being sold in convenience and grocery stores.

The Brewers Guild will meet Friday at Central Flats and Taps in Knoxville to discuss their plans to lobby for all beers 12-14 percent ABV and under to be equally taxed and distributed by the same stores.

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R)-Crossville is the sponsor of the bill before the House, although his office says they are still working on drafting and submitting the specific language.

Brewers Guild member Jeremy Walker says changing the law could entice breweries once turned off by higher taxes and limited distributors to settle in Tennessee.

"We had a great grassroots effort last time that the guild was able to do with the beer tax," said Walker. "Hopefully we can do the same thing here to pop the cap on ABV laws."

Walker says they also intend to lobby for an amendment to the 'wine in grocery' stores bill which is currently making its way through the state legislature. He says if it passes, the guild would like to see it carry an amendment which would allow beers with ABV above 6.25 percent to be sold alongside wine in grocery and convenient stores.

The Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild is inviting the public to a meeting to discuss these issues Friday, February 7th from 4 to 6 p.m. at Central Flats and Taps.

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