In a move that’s brewing controversy across the state, Tennessee legislators are pushing forward a bill aimed at curbing DUI incidents by putting a freeze on cold beer sales.

Spearheaded by Republican champions Sen. Paul Rose and Rep. Ron Gant, SB2636 is causing quite a stir in the halls of power. The bill, introduced on Jan. 31, sets out to prohibit the sale of refrigerated or cold beer at retail outlets, signaling a seismic shift in Tennessee’s approach to alcohol regulation.

The motivation behind this bold legislative step? The alarming statistics surrounding DUI-related accidents. According to Gant, who spoke exclusively to WREG, the evidence is irrefutable. “We see it in the wreckage strewn across our highways, in the beer cans littering our roadsides,” he asserted.

Indeed, the numbers paint a grim picture. In 2019 alone, approximately 21.5% of fatal traffic accidents in Tennessee involved alcohol use, according to data from the Tennessee Safety Resource Prosecutors.

But not everyone is raising a glass to this proposed ban. Business owners, particularly those in the brewing industry, are expressing concerns about the potential chilling effect on their bottom line.

Andy Ashby, co-owner of Memphis Made Brewing, voiced his apprehensions to WREG, stressing the detrimental impact such a ban would have on his brewery and the wider beer business landscape. “Cold is gold,” he quipped, highlighting the consumer preference for chilled beverages.

Drew Barton, head brewer at Memphis Made, echoed Ashby’s sentiments, emphasizing the significant portion of their sales derived from packaged cold beer.

Should the bill pass into law, Memphis Made is poised to rally support from industry allies, including the Tennessee Brewers Guild, in a bid to push back against what they perceive as an existential threat to their livelihoods.

While the stakes are high and tensions are palpable, the fate of SB2636 hangs in the balance as it navigates its way through the legislative labyrinth. With voices on both sides of the aisle clamoring to be heard, the battle over cold beer in Tennessee is far from over.

As the debate rages on, one thing remains clear: in the fight against DUIs, Tennessee isn’t afraid to take a bold stand, even if it means putting cold beer on ice.