The Weirdest Beer and Alcohol Laws on the Books

Most of the US has finally emerged from under the shadow of Prohibition, with a couple of notable holdbacks (we’re looking at you, Georgia). However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some very strange, even Byzantine laws dealing with beer, alcohol and drinking on the books across the country, and even around the world. Given that beer is not only one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in existence, but the single most popular beverage globally, you’d think legislatures would be doing a little more to get rid of this type of legal tomfoolery, but you’d be wrong. So, without further ado, here are some of the strangest beer laws.

Cideries Are Either Breweries or Farms

Georgia takes the cake with some of the harshest, least modern beer laws in the country, but it doesn’t end with breweries. The Peach State also has it in for cideries, for instance. Of course, there are only two cideries in operation in the state, and that’s due directly to the bizarreness of the state’s laws. For example, if a cidery does not grow its own apples, it must deal with the same 19th century laws that apply to breweries. However, if they do grow their own apples, they’re classified as a farm, and get to enjoy the much more relaxed laws that apply to wineries.

Don’t Pony Up

Colorado might be the craft beer capital of America, but even here there are strange laws at work. For instance, riding a horse while drunk carries the same penalties as getting behind the wheel after too much to drink.

See No Evil

Utah is no stranger to weird laws, and new restaurants in the state are getting a taste of just how odd those laws can be. For restaurants founded after 2012, all drinks must be poured out of sight of the customer, behind a frosted pane of glass called a Zion wall. Odd, right? The law does not apply to bars, though.

It’ll Be a Cold Day in Hell

Oklahoma has one very odd law on the books. It’s illegal to sell beer with more than 4.0% alcohol by volume colder than room temperature. We’re not entirely sure what difference the temperature of the beer at the point of sale might make, but, hey, someone thought it was a good idea. Indiana has a similar law that applies to grocery stores only. However, liquor stores are free to refrigerate their beer all they want. Go figure.

Special Treatment for the Irish

Maine follows the same strict alcohol sale stipulations on Sundays as many other US states. That is, with the exception of St. Patrick’s Day. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, you can buy beer starting at 6 AM. All other Sundays you have to wait until after 9 AM.

You Can’t Buy from the Maker

Here’s another one from that gold-star state of Georgia. You can’t buy beer directly from a brewery (note that the state finally allowed brewery visitors to take home a maximum of 72 ounces from a brewery, but no more, and only as part of a brewery tour). It’s a little like visiting a bakery and being told, “No, you can’t buy a loaf here, but you can head down to Wal-Mart and pick one up.” Georgia continues to labor under Prohibition era laws, and the strong hand of the distributors lobby in government.

Sip It, Sucker

Texas has made a lot of strides to become more beer and brewery friendly in the past few years. Austin is actually coming into its own as a craft beer mecca. However, there are still some really odd laws on the books. For instance, you can chug your beer as fast as you want if you’re seated. However, if you’re standing, you’re only allowed to have three sips.

Gotta Meet That Quota

Many states have quotas on the number of liquor licenses they’ll sell. For instance, Idaho and Pennsylvania both do this. Idaho actually limits their licenses to one per every 1,500 residents. New Jersey tops the charts with the cost of their licenses, though. They strictly limit the number of licenses they’ll issue, but holders are free to sell them to others. The record sale price for a liquor license in NJ is $1.6 million. Montana actually comes in second here, with reports of sales costing up to $1 million. And yes, you read that right, there is a secondary market for liquor licenses in both New Jersey and Montana, and it’s legal.

Pay Up and Pay Up Now

Most states have no problem with you running a tab at the bar. It’s so commonplace that anything different really stands out. That’s where you’ll find Iowa. The state actually makes it illegal to run a bar tab. You have to pay for each drink at the time it is served. That’s not to put a crimp in your evening, just to prevent you from not paying for the bill after a long night of drinking.

Alabama Doesn’t Like It Big

Once upon a time, Alabama didn’t allow any beer containers larger than 16 ounces. Thankfully, they updated that outdated legislation in 2012. Now, you can buy any size beer you want, as long as it’s no bigger than 25 ounces. Yep, that means no 40-ouncers.

Find a Liquor Store

While Colorado might have spearheaded the craft beer movement, and embraced legal marijuana, that doesn’t mean you can buy high gravity beer at the local grocery store. For anything with more oomph than 3.2%, you’ll have to go to a liquor store.

What about where you live? Are there any archaic or downright strange beer and alcohol laws on the books? Share your strangest laws with us!