Alcohol and the Nanny State

“In heaven there is no beer,” so the song goes, “That’s why we drink it here (Right Here!), and when we’re gone from here, our friends will be drinking all the beer!”

Well, that depends on the alcohol content of the beer and what state they live in.

Samuel Adams brewery recently released the newest version of its Utopia—the twelfth incarnation. Only about 13,000 bottles of Utopias are brewed every two years. According to the brewer:

Sam Adams Utopias is a spirited blend of multiple batches of our extreme beers, some held in reserve for just this coveted biennial release. In fact, some of the beer dates back nearly three decades, aging in wooden bourbon casks. Brewers then finish the blend in a combination of Carcavelos, Madeira, Ruby Port, and Sherry Oloroso barrels. This year, for the first time, brewers also aged a portion of the blend in Sauternes French oak wine casks which brings subtle notes of honeyed apricot and caramel to the rich layers of flavor.

Utopia doesn’t come in six-packs, just a 25.4-ounce copper-clad decanter with a suggested retail price of $240.

However, because Utopias contain 28 percent alcohol by volume, making them more than five times more potent than typical American beer, residents of Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia won’t find any on the shelves of their liquor stores.


Liquor stores in these same states sell brandy, gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, and tequila—all of which contain at least 40 percent alcohol by volume (80 proof or higher). So what is the big deal about the alcohol content of Utopias?

And of course, it’s not just beer. Governments are obsessed with regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages. If they just enacted a “sin tax” on all beer, wine, and distilled spirits sold, and then adopted a laissez faire approach, we could manage to live with it, although alcoholic beverages shouldn’t be taxed anymore than any other commodity.

In every state, legal adults who can get married, enter into contracts, purchase pornography, adopt children, vote, and join the military cannot purchase alcoholic beverages until they reach the age of 21.

In most states, distilled spirits can only be purchased at a liquor store. Seventeen states are “Alcoholic Beverage Control” states where the state has control over the wholesaling or retailing of some or all types of alcoholic beverages, especially distilled spirits. In the states of Alabama, Idaho, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia, the government owns and operates all of the liquor stores and outlaws private liquor stores. Some states ban happy hours. It is illegal to sell beer or wine produced at home.

The states of Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee are “dry” states: counties in those states must specifically authorize alcohol sales. Each of those states has dry counties. Other states also contain some dry counties, cities, or towns.

In many states and counties, no alcoholic beverages of any kind can be sold before a certain time on Sunday. And in some, no alcohol can be sold for off-premise consumption. In most every state, bars have to close at a certain time on weekdays and weekends.

And people shout that they live in the land of the free and sing that they are proud to be an American where at least they know they’re free? Can they not tell the difference between a nanny state and a free society? A nanny state is destructive to liberty and property. A free society is—you guessed it—free. And whether you are a drinker or not (and I am not), that freedom must include the freedom to buy alcoholic beverages of any percent alcohol by volume.