Alcohol % Prohibition

The Press Herald has published an update on the recent enforcement by regulators of a 1937 law which bans bars from displaying the alcohol percentage of the beer they serve.

“(The law is) absolutely asinine,” said Greg Norton, whose store on Forest Avenue in Portland, the Bier Cellar, specializes in small-batch beer and wine. “It’s an important piece of knowledge for a customer, to plan how many beers they’re going to have that night.”

It’s unclear why the restriction was added to state law, which included rules for Maine’s post-Prohibition liquor industry with arcane terms such as “high test,” “high proof” and “pre-war strength.” Legislative documents from the time suggest it was aimed at advertisements that sold beer based solely on its strength.