Pennsylvania beer laws sometimes get a bad rap. While they are some of the most ill-reasoned beer laws in the United States – the “case law” is widely renowned in the circles of beer geekery as one of the most convoluted beer laws in existence – they’re far from the harshest. Many states still have a cap on the allowable ABV, although many have been gradually increasing the limit, or “popping the cap”.
One such state is Georgia, a state which in 2004 repealed a 70-year-old law limiting the ABV of all beers in the state to 6%. They raised the cap to 14%, still restrictive, yet not as prohibitive as the former mark – under the previous law, most of the beers I have reviewed were not available. This not only allowed the importation of high-ABV beers, but the in-state brewing of such beers. There to take advantage of this was Terrapin Beer Company, who proceeded to drum out a constantly expanding portfolio of mid-range ABV beers.
One of their long-time standards, from before the cap was raised, is SunRay, an unfiltered German-style wheat beer. Brewed with local Tupelo honey, it has a slightly sweeter, smoother taste than many unfiltered wheat beers. It maintains the banana and clove flavors that typify the style, but with a sweeter malt backbone than many sister beers. It also has toned back the slightly acidic notes that usually accompany the unfiltered wheat styles. Unfortunately, this also produces a slightly oily mouthfeel, where normally the style has a very crisp feel. Overall, it is a solid beer, a slight departure from the typical wheat, but well worth a try. SunRay is currently available in bottles for in-house consumption and 6-packs for take-out.
And just remember, our beer laws may suck, but all in all they could be a heck of a lot worse.