NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One Tennessee lawmaker is hoping to clarify how alcoholic beverages are regulated in the state.
Sen. Jon Lundberg (R—Bristol) has introduced legislation that would change the Tennessee Code Annotated to use language determining the alcoholic content of beers and other beverages by volume rather than by weight.
Currently, state law regulates beer and other alcoholic beverages by using a determination of the alcohol content by weight. The limit of the by-weight alcohol content allowed to be sold in grocery stores is currently 8%.
But pick up any case of beer in the grocery store, and consumers will see the alcoholic content is measured by volume and is frequently higher than 8%. This confusion is what Lundberg is hoping to clear up.
“Everyone in the industry uses alcohol by volume,” he told News 2. “We’re really making our code adjust to what the market is, and the market’s measuring everything by volume.”
According to Lundberg, a measurement of 8% alcohol by weight is mathematically equivalent to 10.1% alcohol by volume, so his bill would change all references to “eight percent (8%) by weight” to “ten and one-tenth of one percent (10.1%) by volume.”
Although the number is higher, Lundberg stressed his bill does not in any way increase the allowed alcoholic content of items.
“It’s not an increase. It’s the exact same thing,” he said. “Something that’s 8.0 alcohol by weight and 10.1 alcohol by volume are the exact same thing. We’re not changing the alcoholic content at all.”
He added he had been approached by people in the industry asking for the clarification, citing the confusion between the making of certain alcohols and the packaging instructions.
“Somewhere in there we need to clarify things,” he said. “Let’s clarify what we can sell and what’s different. We’re not putting alcohol on the shelves.”
Lundberg was hopeful the bill could pass but was glad to at least spark the conversation this legislative session.
“More than anything, it’s a conversation for folks to have,” he said. “I’m going to level the playing field so it’s apples and apples. If it’s all packaged by volume, but our code says by gravity, what are you getting? Let’s make our code by volume if that’s what the industry is doing. Let’s do the mathematical conversion and say 8.0 in gravity is 10.1 by volume.”