Washington State Allows Strong Beers

After passing Washington State’s House and Senate, SB 5051, which removes the sale of “strong beer” from the exclusive jurisdiction of Washington’s State Liquor Control Board, was signed by Gov. Gary Locke on May 9. Prior to passage and signature of this bill, private retailers were not allowed to offer beers containing more than 8% alcohol by weight (equivalent to 10% alcohol by volume). The state House added an amendment to provide that microbreweries may not sell strong beer at farmers markets, and that the Board will report to the Legislature by December 1, 2004, on the impact of the sale of strong beer. The bill will take full effect later this year, during the summer. For Washington state specialty beer aficionados, this opens the potential to buy beers like Dogfish Head’s World Wide Stout, Eggenberg’s Samichlaus, EKU’s EKU 28, Schneider’s Weizen Eisbock, and other strong specialty beers from European and American brewers.