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Maine brewers, bar owners puzzled by enforcement of obscure Maine ABV law

An obscure provision in a 1937 Maine law has become a hindrance to a booming craft beer scene in the state, the Portland Press Herald reports.

The provision prohibits bars and restaurants from listing the alcohol content of the beers they serve on signs and menus.

“(The law is) absolutely asinine,” Greg Norton, owner of the Bier Cellar, told the Press Herald. “It’s an important piece of knowledge for a customer, to plan how many beers they’re going to have that night.”

Both the original intent of the law and the recent enforcement of it remain unclear. According to the paper, state Rep. Louis Luchini of Ellsworth has proposed an emergency bill to repeal the language in the law about alcohol content, but the change could take months.

From afar the law appears not only antiquated but potentially dangerous. Beers vary wildly in alcohol content, from the relatively low 4.2 percent ABV of Coors Light to 6.5 percent for a common IPA and 10 or 11 percent for stronger, increasingly common craft beers. Considering one beer could be three or four times as strong as another, not listing these percentages is a potential public safety issue.

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