Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 13, 2014

Half Moon not sweating state's old alcohol law

By Martin Slagter Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Half Moon Restaurant & Brewery Owner Chris Roegner believes ignoring an old state law that prohibits advertising a beer’s alcohol content is actually safer for consumers than enforcing it.

While the state law, which hasn’t been enforced in years, is likely headed for repeal by Senate Bill 236, Roegner believes it benefits customers to know the amount of alcohol they are consuming.

Half Moon posts all of its beers’ alcohol by volume content in its menus and a large chalkboard display within the restaurant, along with international bittering units, which measures the hoppiness or bitterness of a beer. Half Moon currently has six standard beers and three seasonal brews on tap, ranging from the 4.5 percent ABV Wildcat Wheat to the 8 percent Kokomonster.

Knowing the difference, Roegner said, is critical in helping customers drink responsibly.

“A 12 oz. Bud Light isn’t the same as a 12 oz. Kokomonster with an 8 percent ABV,” Roegner said. “People need to realize that when making their selections. If you’ve had three beers, it’s really the equivalent of a six pack if you drink [the Kokomonster].”

The bill — passed by the House with minor changes — would roll back other laws long on the books if signed by the governor.

The bill evolved from work done by the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee, which has been rewriting the felony portion of the state criminal code. When craft beer brewers heard about the effort, they asked legislators to review an old section of code that reads: “It is unlawful for a person to advertise the proof or the amount or percentage of alcohol in beer … .”

The law is a holdover from the post-Prohibition years when regulators were looking for ways to control the sale of alcohol.

Roegner said while he hasn’t inspected the bill or law closely, he believes the latest effort by lawmakers to repeal it shows that the law is outdated.

Customers rarely ask questions about the alcohol content in the beer at Half Moon, he said, with the exception of the more “novice drinker” who doesn’t know what the alcohol content measurements mean.

“I guess by popular opinion, it’s already kind of been repealed,” he said. “The slow legislative process just seems to be catching up to the real world. We’ve [posted alcohol content levels] since day one and so has everyone else in the state of Indiana.”

Martin Slagter can be reached at 765-454-8570, martin.slagter@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @slagterm.