KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It's a craft beer crackdown. The state of Tennessee is stepping up its efforts to stop restaurants from selling take-home brews.
State regulators with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission say only restaurants with on-site breweries are allowed to sell alcohol to go.
The move is forcing a popular East Tennessee restaurant chain to stop sales at most of its locations, and customers aren't happy about it.
The chain of Copper Cellar Restaurants, which includes Calhoun's and Smoky Mountain Brewery locations, is well known for its craft beer.
But they recently received a citation from the Tennessee ABC, telling them to stop selling that beer at their restaurants for people to take home.
Copper Cellar Restaurants COO Bart Fricks says that's something they've done for years.
"Kegs. Mini kegs. Bottled beer, or what's called a growler, or glass jug, that you can fill up with beer. People enjoy taking those home," says Fricks.
The company has now ceased take-home brew sales at seven locations.
The only restaurants that can still sell it are the few where they have an on-site brewery.
"We are still selling them at Smoky Mountain Brewery in Turkey Creek, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Calhoun's in Bearden Hill," said Fricks.
They have to make some changes at those locations in order to still sell it.
Customers can't buy at the front register anymore.
In restaurants licensed by the Tennessee ABC, the sale of beer for off-premises consumption must be done in a separate area of the building.
Fricks says it's a huge inconvenience for customers.
"Now they have to ring it up, they get a receipt. We take them into a separate room. The brew room. We deliver the take home brew to them there, and then they have to go out a side entrance of the restaurant," he said.
While Copper Cellar Restaurants is complying with the TABC's request, they have received a number of complaints from customers who used to get take home beer from the locations that are not permitted to sell it.
Customer Darryl Huddleston said he eats at a Smoky Mountain Brewery every time he passes through Knoxville.
He's not happy about the change, and says it's much more difficult now to buy the craft beer he enjoys to take back home with him to Cookeville.
"I understand that you can't buy a bottle of beer or a glass of beer here and walk out the door with that. That's an open container, but that's a whole different thing than buying something to take home and consume at home," said Huddleston of Cookeville.
The TABC says the law has been in effect for several years.
Copper Cellar is encouraging customers who disagree with the state law to contact state lawmakers.